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Attending the Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week in Switzerland as an international relations student

Written by Bachelor of International Relations / Bachelor of Laws student Saxon McGregor.

Are you intrigued by diplomacy, geopolitics, and government? Do you aspire to study and work in a fascinating field that will allow you to travel around the world? If so, Bond’s Bachelor of International Relations could be the perfect degree for you.

In May of 2022, I was fortunate to be able to travel over 16,000 kilometres to Geneva, Switzerland – one of the most important hubs for multilateralism (the process whereby multiple countries form an alliance and work towards a common goal). Home to the United Nations’ (UN) European headquarters, the World Health Organisation, International Committee of the Red Cross, and over 750 other non-governmental organisations (NGOs), Geneva is heaven for an international relations (IR) student.

The reason for my visit was to learn more about humanitarian preparedness and response, and to network with IR practitioners at the annual Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week (HNPW). I first heard about the Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week from my uncle, who is involved in the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group. I was so excited by the prospect of going to Geneva, and didn’t need any convincing to attend! Within about a week of hearing about the event, my flights were booked, and I was packing my bags, ready to embark on an exciting adventure ahead.

HNPW is known as one of the largest annual humanitarian conferences, and is a collaborative space for people from UN agencies, NGOs, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, academia, the military, private sector initiatives, and member states. The conference addresses new concepts, connects participants with one another, and seeks solutions to common global challenges.

Saxon McGregor in Geneva for the Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week

During my time attending HNPW, I had the opportunity to gain industry experience by attending a networking session with delegates from around the world. I also got to meet with mentors at the World Health Organisation in Geneva who have pursued a similar career trajectory to what I'm aspiring to. This was a really valuable experience that gave me some perspective on my current situation as a university student – everyone I spoke to said they envied the interests, opportunities and experiences still yet to explore throughout my degree. It really cemented the fact that I can forge my own career and pursue the things that I’m passionate about on the journey to working in international relations.

Reflecting on the incredible experience I had in Geneva, I can’t help but tie everything I learned abroad back to my education here at Bond University. There are three things from Bond’s Core Curriculum that played a crucial role in my interactions with other global citizens.

1. Critical thinking and clear expression

Many essential skills, like identifying issues, framing questions, organising information, and crafting logical arguments were fundamental to success throughout this experience. Geneva sits within Romandy, the French-speaking part of western Switzerland, so it was important that I could converse with and learn from others despite language differences. I enjoyed the challenge of immersing myself in another language and culture, and think that going forward, I would be even more confident entering similar situations thanks to Bond’s strong emphasis on effective communication.

2. Team collaboration

As our world’s economies, cultures, and populations are becoming increasingly interdependent, team collaboration is a crucial skill for today’s graduates. Developing intrapersonal and interpersonal skills at university has enabled me to become an individual contributor, team player and leader in diverse social contexts. HNPW is organised by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and relies on partnerships and collaboration between many organisations, so collaboration is very important for the success of the event. Seeing this in action really emphasised the importance of quality collaboration for me.

3. Responsible discourse and action

Finally, Bond’s Core Curriculum fosters a lifelong commitment to responsible discourse and action. Throughout my studies, I have gained the critical skills needed to effectively respond to moral challenges in personal, civic, professional, and global contexts. For IR students and practitioners, informed decision-making for various cultural, professional, and political landscapes is a highly valuable skill, and was fundamental to my ability to critically engage with HNPW.

There were many takeaways from the Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week. For one, my sense of identity and perspective changed – significantly.  I now feel consumed by wanderlust, and am more excited for what my career post-Bond will bring. I’ve learnt things that I wouldn’t have been able to learn in a classroom or find buried in a textbook, and as a result, I’m more confident in myself and my skills as a global citizen.

There are many career outcomes an international relations degree can offer, in sectors such as government, intelligence, non-governmental organisations, and politics. If you're looking for a fascinating career that addresses the needs of our globalising world, the Bachelor of International Relations could be a fantastic next step.

Bond offers a huge variety of international experiences, especially for those who study IR, including study abroad and exchange opportunities, international Model United Nations (MUN) competitions, study tours, and overseas internships. Throughout these experiences and your studies, you’ll have the opportunity to bridge the gap between theory and practice, and ensure you graduate well-equipped with transferrable knowledge and dynamic skills for your future career.

Gain global experience with Bond’s Bachelor of International Relations.

Develop global perspectives and the skills you’ll need to address international challenges. A career in international relations starts here at Bond University.

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