“Brazil changed my life.”

Shelby Sewak is studying the Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) with Bachelor of Laws. She recently participated in the Global Leadership Program’s International Symposium trip to Brazil. Here she reflects on how the trip sparked her passion for human rights.

“Brazil is a nation bursting with vibrancy, diversity, rich multiculturalism and ethnic heritage, music, dance, history, colour and breathtaking landscapes.

As young leaders we were exposed to an incredible amount of first-hand experiences allowing deep insight into the cultural essence of Brazil. We gained a greater understanding of contemporary social and political issues facing Brazil through participation in briefings and active engagement with NGOs, corporates and government organisations.

After experiencing what I will always consider to be one of my most beautiful, engaging, enriching and eye-opening life experiences and lessons yet, I feel I can make a personal judgment about the people, culture and diversity of Brazil.

As a multicultural nation characterised by such rich customs, traditions and practices, it can definitely be said that diversity is one of Brazil’s strengths. But on deeper consideration of the level of inequality between different ethnic groups – in particular the marginalisation of the Afro-Brazilian community – you can appreciate the social issues and violations of human rights that exist in this nation. Its diversity is its strength, and yet it is also its greatest challenge.

The GLP Brazil Symposium educated, enlightened and inspired me, and as a young, first-year student it allowed me to discover my passion for human rights. Brazil undoubtedly changed my life for the better.

So, Macquarie students, I urge you to remember why you are a young leader and what motivates you to create positive change. There is an entire world out there waiting for enthusiastic, driven and passionate students like us to experience and gain knowledge of issues and initiate change. We are, after all, the future.”


Shelby was selected through a competitive application process to be a delegate on the Global Leadership Program’s International Symposium trip to Brazil in September, 2015.