The VI National Distance Olympiad for Students
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 speaker’s 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?
Ekaterina Belaya, North-East University, Magadan
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. Australia’s 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 O’Grady, 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
Silence. The maddening tension stifled him. He cleared his throat but a lump still hindered breathing. He burst into goose bumps when the chairman’s 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.
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
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 Amber’s 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
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 it’s the country of departure of Oceanic flight in “Lost”!
Well, probably it is all that I knew
And that is why I share Helen’s point of view.
I can’t 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, it’s 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 I’ve seen in the pictures through the crossword paces :-)
Kate Alferova, Chelyabinsk State University, Chelyabinsk
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 doesn’t 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 doesn’t it play the leading role?
Firstly, it’s 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
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 doesn’t 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
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 world’s culture. Eventually, as Andre Malraux said, “world culture has enabled man to be less enslaved”. Didn’t ancient explorers long for it when they left their home for “Terra Australis incognita”?
Anna Stupenkova, Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University), Moscow
Julia Loukina, Lomonosov Pomor State University, Arkhangelsk
First of all, Australia has a significant impact on the world’s 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
Ulyana Naumova, Russian New University, Moscow