Thursday, January 23, 2014

Global Study Trip 3 - Cairns

After our stops in Melbourne and Sydney we headed towards the Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef to see what makes Australia one of the prime tourism spots worldwide. Besides coming closer together as a group while exploring the marine wildlife we also met with one of the most prominent thought leaders and activists in indigenous affairs in Australia: Noel Pearson.

Indigenous affairs have been handled very differently in Australia over the last centuries. Stories about for example the "stolen generation" have made it even to German classrooms where I remember heated discussions about how a government can put in place legislation so obviously harmful. It was interesting to see what kind of picture Pearson was painting compared to the CEOs we had met beforehand on our trip. Those CEOs were seeing the problems of Native Australians not really as a challenge for their businesses, but more of a PR vehicle to showcase their own corporate social responsibility. Pearson referenced a lot of political philosophy in his speech to us and it became obvious that he was an experienced speaker in front of big audiences. He was using his gestures and mimic much more than the business leaders we had met before. I don't think it is fair to compare Pearson's to MLK's style, but it actually seemed fairly similar.

If you are interested:

On a lighter note, when people hear Cairns they immediately think scuba diving and snorkeling. Activities I am not a huge fan of. Mostly because I am afraid of deep water and fish. Two things that are integral components of diving. Well, I snorkeled anyway. And I am still alive. But I didn't find my love for seeing fish and corals that close up.

Another interesting fact about Cairns is that there are a lot of bats all over town. Why? - I have not idea. But see for yourself in the pictures. It is actually quite scary at night and reminded all of us of Hitchcock's "Birds" movie.

Stay tuned for the wrap-up of the global study trip and my travels back to Stanford.

Cheers + bis bald,

Bats in Cairns
Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef 
Boat ride back from the reef

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