9-29 2009 .
"JUST TRAIN YOUR BRAIN"
The Voyage to Terra Australis

The VI National Distance Olympiad for Students
"Just Train Your Brain The Voyage to Terra Australis"

Participants of the second round (16 20 November) were tasked with the search for an answer to the question, What is the role of Australia in the modern world? They reviewed 6 video clips, in which 6 Australians (a dean of the Faculty of Arts, History and Political Science students, a dentist, a lecturer in Australian indigenous literature, and a playwright) speculated on the issue. Each contestant then had to choose a point of view that was the most appealing to them and complete a 300-word essay supporting the speakers opinion. The Jury received many submissions that were interesting and original in terms of both content and layout, including a poem and an imaginary speech of a politician attending a summit meeting. So, how do they see the role of Australia in the modern world?

It is safe to say that living in remoteness from the world does not imply insignificance or lack of longing for staying in touch.
Ekaterina Belaya, North-East University, Magadan

Jared Diamond, an American scientist and nonfiction author, once said, "Australia is the most isolated continent." Indeed, Australia has been isolated for millions of years, floating alone in the Great Ocean since the breakup of Gondwanaland. What are the effects of such isolation? Due to Australia's age and isolation, much of the country's fauna and flora is unique. Besides, aboriginal traditions are still alive. On the other hand, isolation is partly responsible for the late discovery of the country. But recently another urgent problem has emerged: detachment from the world. As for me, I totally agree with Richard Fotheringham, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, that the problem of geography has a great impact on Australia's present status in the world, its prosperity and the perspectives concerning international exchange. I believe Australia has never been a cultural desert. Nowadays, it is square with the entire world being a participant in all fields of activity. Speaking of its contribution in art and science, for example, mention should be made of aboriginal legends and art, of great writers, artists, musicians, actors, architects, scientists. It is amazing to observe the progress, the formation of the culture especially taking into account the old time of oppression and its convict past. The problem of solitude is familiar to me. I live in Magadan (North-East of Russia), where there are no means of communication with outside world except planes, where in 1935-1955 victims of the GULAG were exiled, and where there is no civilization within 5000 km but only wild severe nature. Nevertheless, today my town is an important economic, scientific, and cultural centre of the region. It is safe to say that living in remoteness from the world does not imply insignificance or lack of longing for staying in touch.

Ekaterina Belaya, North-East University, Magadan


In my opinion, this country has all the necessary inherent features to make the world a far better place to live in.
Ksenia Barabanova, Eltsin Ural State Technical University, Ekaterinburg

In my opinion, talking about the role of Australia in the modern world, Sam Watson made a few valuable remarks. The role of any country is determined primarily by its geographical position, natural-resources potential and historical development.

All Australians know that their continent has been a natural reserve for 135 million years and that it embraces more endemic species of both plant and animal kingdom than any other continent in the world (out of 12000 species 9000 are endemics). Therefore, Australians know how to preserve nature; the fact that there are more than a thousand conservation areas proves it. Australias contribution into the global environmental protection is increasing. It is planned, for example, that by 2020 Australia will be getting 20% of the energy from alternative sources. All this supports the idea that Australia may take a forward role in regulating environmental issues.

Australia is also likely to become a leader in the world movement for human rights. The reasons for this lie in its history. Since 1788 Australia had been a home for convicts from the British Empire. However, as time went on, it became a melting pot for different nationalities. After World War II more than two million people of different nationalities migrated to Australia. This country has always welcomed victims of political prosecution, wars, natural calamities or just seekers for a better life, but only if these people were ready to live by Australian laws and values. A recently adopted bill against Muslims who do not want to obey these laws proves it. As John OGrady, an Australian writer, pointed out, Get yourself accepted as an Australian and you will enter a world you never dreamed existed.

In my opinion, this country has all the necessary inherent features to make the world a far better place to live in.

Ksenia Barabanova, Eltsin Ural State Technical University, Ekaterinburg


Australia is on the marks now, it is armored enough to plunge into the global economy ocean, to surf there and to keep afloat.
Olga Lyakhova, South-Ural State University, Chelyabinsk

September 25, 1999

Silence. The maddening tension stifled him. He cleared his throat but a lump still hindered breathing. He burst into goose bumps when the chairmans voice rumbled to introduce him. The Judgment Day for his country has come. Neck or nothing, the thought flashed in his mind taking away pesky butterflies from his stomach.

Dear colleagues,

A lot has been done since our last meeting, and Australia has performed a substantial leap as well. Universal approval has been enjoyed by our recent policy, economic rearranging and world partnership orientation. Stepping over prejudice and inequitable attitude, we successfully provide an appreciable supply of natural gas, iron, copper, coal, tungsten, lead, zinc, silver, gold, bauxite, opal, diamonds, grain, wool, meat .The exporting commodities rates have augmented drastically and still keep underpinned; trade with such powers as the US, Germany, China are a jumping board to further fruitful joint enterprises. Ready, steady, GO! Australia is on the marks now, it is armored enough to plunge into the global economy ocean, to surf there and to keep afloat. Labor market, finance system, manufacture sector have been deregulated for the better, and our ministers take pride in our role and exercise their eloquence on behalf of the country as a future G-20 member. International integrity is our top-priority target and Australia is developing by leaps and bounds not to seem an outback hermit. Advance Australia fair!

He took his seat. Silence. The maddening tension stifled him. He felt excited but pleased, all readiness to hear the verdict. He did all his utmost. He did not impose his economic outlooks, he stated sheer facts.

Well, the chairman disturbed the hovering silence with his soft voice. Let us greet a newly-born member of the Great Twenty!

Olga Lyakhova, South-Ural State University, Chelyabinsk


I think Australia has impressive prospects to become one of the leaders of international community.
Darya Demidova, Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University), Moscow

Considering the role of whatever country in contemporary society a son of its soil should break away from the image he sees from within and, so to speak, try to step into the shoes of a foreigner.

To my mind, the most objective image of Australia was presented by Amber, a Political Science student from Brisbane, who gave a notion about its political role on the international arena.

Miss Ambers point of view depicts Australian contribution to the welfare of international community which in fact determines its significance. On the one hand, she placed Australia among the middle powers that seek alliance with great powers such as the USA and China by cooperating with the former in international peacekeeping and by broadening economical ties with the latter. On the other hand, Australia remains the leading state safeguarding international security in the Asian-Pacific region: Australia is a member of the UN peacekeeping operation in East Timor. Being a participant of the APEC Australia also promotes integration within the region. Moreover, Australia enjoys economic superiority in the APR Australian GDP ($1055,9 billion) is greater than that of Great Britain in terms of purchasing power parity and also helps other countries onto their feet: about 60 countries receive assistance within a large bilateral program of Australia. Integrating with other states of the APR Australia advances mutually profitable development.

To sum up, Australia is one of the most peace-loving states that can really guarantee safety if only in one region of our fragile world. Miss Amber looked at the question from the angle of international policy, and such an attitude seems to be right. As a student of the Faculty of International Relations, I think Australia has impressive prospects to become one of the leaders of international community.

Darya Demidova, Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University), Moscow


As its isolation helps to preserve the nation
Australia will not be vanished by globalization!
Kate Alferova, Chelyabinsk State University, Chelyabinsk

What was Australia for me before this competition?
What did I know about this country, its culture, its traditions?
There is the famous Barrier reef the most desired place to work,
And there was born Hugh Jackman, the sexiest actor in New York!
There are the kangaroos, the brilliant Gold Coast...
And its the country of departure of Oceanic flight in Lost!

Well, probably it is all that I knew
And that is why I share Helens point of view.

I cant say that Australian role is really high-rated
Maybe because it is too young or very isolated.
Its geographical position does not permit to lead,
But on the other hand, its what the cultures need!
And as this isolation helps to preserve the nation
Australia will not be vanished by globalization!

Who knows, maybe in 100 years or less,
There will be just two cultures Australia and the US.
I hope that I shall have a chance to visit all those places
That Ive seen in the pictures through the crossword paces :-)

Kate Alferova, Chelyabinsk State University, Chelyabinsk


In the future, I believe, Australia will be down under only geographically and on top in every other sphere.
Mikhail Rybkov, Siberian Federal University, Krasnoyarsk

More than two hundred years have passed since the first settlement was founded in Australia. But still many people consider this country as a part of the former British Empire. Therefore, its role in the modern world seems to be not so clear.

On the other hand, two centuries is a rather short span of time for a country to become significant internationally. In this light I agree with Helen, who said that Australia is very young but it has a lot of potential.

Talking about the potential it should be mentioned that the Australian continent is very rich in various natural resources. Not only agriculture and mining, but also tourism made a solid contribution to the national economy of the country.

Despite this fact, Australia doesnt really have a great role, because being an exporter of minerals and an importer of tourists is just one step on the way to become the leader in international affairs; culture, science and education must have been significantly developed as well.

And they really have! Bionic ear, black box, combine harvester were invented in Australia. It gave the world outstanding opera stars, successful sportsmen and eminent scientists. So why doesnt it play the leading role?

Firstly, its very young. Secondly, the British Empire has affected Australia adversely; the transportation of convicts was stopped only in 1868. And thirdly, it has been isolated for years, which made communication with other countries very difficult.

Thus, Australia is a country with the short history but long-term aboriginal traditions. It does not play a great role in the world but its science and culture are on a very high level. And in the future, I believe, Australia will be down under only geographically and on top in every other sphere.

Mikhail Rybkov, Siberian Federal University, Krasnoyarsk


What is the place of Australia in the modern world? To my mind, Stephen Carleton is right saying that the Australians themselves do not seem to know the answer.
Vasily Ovechko, Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University), Moscow

I quite agree with Stephen Carletons point of view on the role of Australia in the modern world.

I believe that almost every country faces the dilemma of its place in the world. For example, the Russians have never been sure whether their country is a part of Asia or a part of Europe. Neither can Turkey be referred to as only a European country or only an Asian country. Australia is not an exception and it also has to face the problem of its cultural identity, of its role in the modern world. On the one hand, historically Australia was generally influenced by western countries. Most people migrated to Australia from the West (from the USA, Great Britain, etc.) and formed their own culture far away from their homelands. On the other hand, geographically Australia is a part of Asia. It is a member of APEC, and plays a very important role in the Pacific region. Australia is interested in mutually beneficial economic cooperation with its Asian neighbours, especially with newly industrialized countries. Stephen Carleton goes on to say that Australia wants to be a part of Asia, but doesnt want Asia to be a part of Australia. And it does make perfect sense to me, as Australia has formed its own unique culture, which actually differs greatly from the Asian culture.

So what is the place of Australia in the modern world? To my mind, Stephen Carleton is right saying that the Australians themselves do not seem to know the answer.

Vasily Ovechko, Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University), Moscow


Making a contribution to development of its own culture, Australia makes a contribution to worlds culture.
Anna Stupenkova, Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University), Moscow

Australia terra australis incognita It was considered to be a myth, a beautiful fairy-tale about an unknown land in the southern hemisphere which was to balance the northern one. While earlier in history expeditions departed from Europe to discover what Australia was at that time, today we make our own exploration trying to answer the similar question: What is the role of Australia in the modern world?

I agree with Richard Fotheringham, who states that Australia is at the bottom of the world, a long-way from everywhere, so the most important thing is that Australia should be a participant in building the world culture and world knowledge. Because of its geographical position, Australia seems to be isolated from the world community. At the same time, it has turned into the habitat for representatives of 200 countries. Having begun with X-ray paintings and stories of the Dreamtime of Indigenous peoples, having developed as Anglo-Celtic Western culture, having been influenced by Mediterranean and Asian immigrants, Australian culture reflects the global unification of different nations. It accepts all world religions and traditions and on their base creates its own unique system which includes art, language, music, history, etc. There is a wise statement of Hu Shih: In such diffused changes of culture two factors are necessary: contact and understanding. In my opinion, it is just what we are trying to construct in the modern world and what we practically see in Australia. We should create world culture and world knowledge, where every country participates and has its own influence and weight.

To sum up, making a contribution to development of its own culture, Australia makes a contribution to worlds culture. Eventually, as Andre Malraux said, world culture has enabled man to be less enslaved. Didnt ancient explorers long for it when they left their home for Terra Australis incognita?

Anna Stupenkova, Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University), Moscow


Nowadays' world faces great challenges, but Australia has the potential to make it a better and a safer place to live in.
Julia Loukina, Lomonosov Pomor State University, Arkhangelsk

In my opinion, in video 5 Amber, a Political Science student, gives the best overview of Australia's place in the modern world. Australia plays an important role in the crucial areas of international relations, both regionally and globally, providing collective security and world peace; maintaining economic, political, social stability, encouraging cultural and technological development. The country is a strong supporter of UN peacekeeping operations, contributing about USD 100 million to the UN peacekeeping budget annually. As an active member of counter-terrorism missions and the Proliferation Security Initiative, Australia plays a major role in regional and global peace settlement. Having favourable climate and being rich in natural resources, Australia has one of the strongest economies in the world. Exporting goods and services mainly to APEC members, Australia contributes greatly to the economic growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific Region. Moreover, Australia provides developing countries with valuable economic and humanitarian aid and works hard on eliminating of all forms of racial discrimination. In conclusion, nowadays' world faces great challenges, but Australia has the potential to make it a better and a safer place to live in.

Julia Loukina, Lomonosov Pomor State University, Arkhangelsk


While being strongly influenced by its society, the country manages to preserve its originality and nature. Who knows, maybe this is the key to the future prosperity of the human race?
Elena Pervyshina, Krasnoyarsk State Institute of Economics and Trade

The role of Australia in the modern world is a controversial question. From one point of view, this country is too young to play an important role in international affairs and transactions. On the other hand, there is a lot of interaction between Australia and other countries. If I were to choose one of the opinions expressed in the task, I would prefer to support ideas of Yurij, a dentist from Brisbane.

First of all, Australia has a significant impact on the worlds culture. Not only does it provide humanity with actors, musicians and sportsmen, but also it preserves all the cultural and historical traditions maintained throughout its existence. I reckon that it is connected with public policy in the country, which is known to be liberal and tolerant.

Secondly, Australia is one of the largest suppliers of raw materials in the world. Moreover, it supplies the rest of the world with agricultural products. For instance, Australia is one of the main suppliers of fleece, chemical fertilizers, wheat and fruit.

Thirdly, the country plays a major role in international affairs. For example, it participates in the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate. Therefore, the government of Australia is concerned with global climate changes and energy security.

Taking these points into consideration, I would say that Australia has an important role in the modern world. While being strongly influenced by its society, the country manages to preserve its originality and nature. Who knows, maybe this is the key to the future prosperity of the human race?

Elena Pervyshina, Krasnoyarsk State Institute of Economics and Trade


I hope the Lucky country will enter into closer cooperation and contacts with the world, still preserving her peacefulness and make us see that the place many of us dream of can be the reality.
Ulyana Naumova, Russian New University, Moscow

A Strange Terra Incognita The Promised Land A Dream country Is it really so? When I was a kid, I was seduced by stereotypes, those sweet images of a green far-away land of innocent koalas and curious duckbills from my favourite wildlife stories. "Australia" was a synonym of "happiness". Distant, serene, inscrutable and at the same time developed and modern, for me it remains one of the embodiments of Eldorado on the Earth. Still I cannot say I know for sure its role in the world nowadays. Though considered successful, it is often forgotten in serious affaires. Geography played and interesting joke on this place. On the one hand, Australia is an example for "the hosts of the world" (for instance, the US and Europe). It shows that the nature and the man can coexist. Money, success and peace can coexist too, without wars and revolutions (for any reasons - even it is aussies' "laziness"). Australia gains: less suffering, less dark pages in the history. On the other hand, it just cannot be integrated in social and culture life as easily as it goes with European countries. Because of its location it lacks the vivacity of Europe, this political and cultural anthill. Australia loses: not being in the spotlight, not feeling the pulsing and rhythm closely situated countries feel. So I am with those who cannot decipher Australias place and role in the modern world, but I know the role I would like to see this country playing in the future. I hope the Lucky country will enter into closer cooperation and contacts with the world, still preserving her peacefulness and make us see that the place many of us dream of can be the reality.

Ulyana Naumova, Russian New University, Moscow


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