Charlotte: HEX Great Global Challenge (July 2021)

Hex Great Global Challenge was an amazing virtual experience that provided me with great learning all through online means. The programme was a week-long event where we were placed in groups of approximately five people. Since this was an online, global event these groups included people from all over the world, speaking different languages and having different cultures.

We were given an issue: ‘Protecting Human Rights in a Post-truth World’, and we had to create a product to help combat it. We had online workshops all throughout the day, from 1am to 11am, and we had to organise between our group members who would attend which workshops (as only at least one group member had to attend each workshop and we needed to maintain sleep!). Some of my favourite workshops included Q&A discussions with very successful professionals on topics such as fake news, and hands-on workshops where we learnt how to digitally prototype a working app!

The first challenge my group and I faced was communicating over time zones. Since we had a team of people from New Zealand, Australia, and the UK we had to navigate everyone’s different sleep times and almost ‘pass the baton’ to different group members to continue the work while others slept. Overcoming this challenge opened my eyes to the capabilities of technology to allow us to collaborate with people from everywhere, no matter the time difference. Another challenge I faced was staying focused whilst being online all day. Although the content was engaging, sitting and watching a screen provided a challenge for me as it was less interactive than an in person workshop. To combat this I consistently took breaks to go for walks, cook food and talk to friends and family in person.

One of the things I took away from this programme is that I am now significantly more inspired about the possibilities of international collaboration in work. Seeing so many different people work together on a fascinating challenge opened up my eyes to what the future could be; amazing new innovations through international collaboration to create positive change in the world. I am excited for my generation and what our future holds, as networking with the HEX students was inspirational. These students are all passionate about changing the world for the better, and are more than willing to work together to achieve it!

One piece of advice I would give to students considering virtual programmes is to go for it! Virtual programmes are so convenient, you can stay at home and study at the same time! The digital world opens up so many opportunities to learn and somewhat travel while staying where you are. If you have the time, and are interested in the virtual programme’s topic, I would say give it a go!

Great Global Challenge — HEX

Sophia: HEX Discovery/ Virtual Innovation Program (July 2021)

The Hacker Exchange Virtual programme was divided into daily stand up, lesson, workshop, discussion, social activity and mentor time. A checkpoint must be submitted every three days to ensure the student has kept up with the progress. The Hex team has created a website where students can find everything related to the programme, such as the programme schedule (with zoom links), the cohort, mentor portal, speaker list, submission portal and social activities, etc. Furthermore, there’s a page where students and mentors can post and interact. I picked it up quickly as the website was straightforward to use.

What I enjoyed the most is the workshops, such as the UI, VR/AR workshops. I had the opportunity to explore the technology world with some hands-on experiences. I also enjoyed hearing the global guest speakers from innovative multinational firms. They were very interactive and willing to share their experiences and provide us recommendations. I have gained deeper insights into the Asian & Pacific region’s business environments, technology ecosystems and start-ups from the Hacker Exchange APAC Innovation Programme. In just two weeks, I flexed my entrepreneurial skills, took my start-up concept from ideation to prototype, and had excellent pitching in front of real investors.

Meanwhile, I have developed diverse skills. This includes using lean canvas and business model, conducting market research, app design, rapid prototyping, etc. In particular, I experienced working on an international project while using a range of industry-standard tools and software and collaborated with a multidisciplinary team under pressure. Meanwhile, I developed some interpersonal skills by connecting with my mentors, cohort and global speakers proactively on Linkedin. Building confidence and communication were the key to develop interpersonal skills and networking. This will enable me to better connect with my colleagues, whether at the university or future workplace. Additionally, the skills I have developed in this virtual programme will enable me to apply to my studies as it’s quite relevant to what I’m learning now.

It was challenging to keep up with the daily lessons and activities. The programme was intensive as the schedule was packed. The programme started at 11am NZT and ended at 6pm-8pm everyday. Sometimes we have to spend additional time working on the research and checkpoints. Therefore, time management was crucial. The most challenging part of the programme was to deliver a high-standard business pitch to the real investors and audience in three minutes. The preparation time frame was short, but lots of things have to be covered. I had to step out of my comfort zone and pitch in front of many people, as well as Live on Youtube. This enabled me to become more confident now.

Overall, it was a fantastic experience and I would definitely recommend students explore this virtual programme from any faculty. It will open up broader perspectives and opportunities which would be beneficial for their future career. They would harvest a lot of knowledge and skill within these two weeks. Lastly, thanks to Auckland University for sponsoring me this scholarship to attend this programme.

Ashleigh: CISaustralia BEHIND, BENEATH & BEYOND SOCIAL MEDIA (June 2021)

The CIS Australia Behind, Beneath and Beyond Social Media virtual programme was a fun, interactive and informative course about social media and the future of technology.

There were eight sessions across the two weeks, each was led by a different speaker and focussed on a specific aspect of social media and technology. One of the advantages of having a virtual programme was that we had speakers from all over the world talking about the field that they are passionate about. Getting to hear their experiences of the topics they care about helped to make the course engaging and exciting. Through the presentations, I was introduced to concepts and ideas that I was previously unaware of and they helped me to broaden my thinking and become more open to change.

Two sessions that really contributed to this were a session on neuroscience and technology and a session held in virtual reality. The idea that technology is at a place where we can recreate the pictures that people are thinking of or the words they want to say or actions they want to do by connecting ourselves to their brains was especially fascinating to me. I had not previously known or even thought about it, but it could have an amazing impact in helping people with disabilities become more independent.

Our session in VR introduced me to the idea of companies, clubs and theatres becoming VR experiences. Over the last year and a half, we have all become accustomed to using online learning and communication methods, but I had not realised that long before this there were companies operating entirely in VR programmes. Now there are even comedy and music performances being conducted from an artist’s living room that people can attend in VR.

The programme helped to improve my problem solving and critical thinking skills. When thinking about the future and technology, there are currently a lot of unknowns. It is hard to say exactly where we will be in the future, and it was interesting to consider the advancements that we are making and the direction that these discoveries and inventions may take us. In our first session, we learnt about exponential thinking from Sally Dominguez and how to be an adventurous thinker. This mindset allows creates a different way of thinking, turning the usual series of questions upside-down and encouraging new and creative ideas and ways to solve problems.

Overall, the programme was really interesting and informative. My eyes were opened to new ideas and ways of thinking that will be useful to me moving forward. The range of presenters from various different backgrounds located all around the world created an awesome experience. The programme was highly topical and fascinating, and I would happily attend another virtual programme in the future.

Behind, Beneath & Beyond Social Media | CISaustralia

Paul: CISaustralia BEHIND, BENEATH & BEYOND SOCIAL MEDIA (June 2021)

The intersection of media, technology, psychology, and policy has never been as rich as it is now. The ongoing critiques of American democracy with manufactured consent, the problematic indoctrination through personalised filter bubbles and the erosion of personal connection for the profit of a handful of companies are all questions at the fore of the conversation around social media and its impact in contemporary society. Going into the CIS Australia Social Media programme I was excited to learn more about these issues, and hopefully get some answers to them too.

With a wide array of speakers, I was able to deeper and broaden my understanding of social medias effect on us all. One of the most exciting examples of this was Nell Watson, her talk Artificial Intelligence & Ethics: AI and Social Trust expanded on these questions, bringing together the issue of social media filter bubbles and democracy through the idea of information gerrymandering. A tool, created through algorithms and used by large tech platforms, to manipulate voting opinions within populations. Watson explained, by creating separate networks within a social media site and keeping groups of people within those networks exclusively, you could then gently change their opinions on a subject. Of course, this is most often used for political gain.

Another talk, Cybersecurity – Disinformation and Social Media by Pablo Breuer discussed just how much information we all have available on the internet. Breuer explained this through a demonstration. Breuer talked about just how much information we are putting online through a lens of malicious hacking. He explored just how vulnerable we all are, and the dangerous position we’re putting ourselves in by putting so much of our personal information online. He made his point more tangibly through an exercise, we were all given 15 minutes to find out as much information as possible about him using his public social media accounts. One student found his age, university, time spent in the military, his residential region and the age and names of both his kids.

Although the content of the programme was excellent, the online environment did make it more challenging. It was harder to communicate and socialise with the other students when doing group activities. To overcome this, I, and I’m sure other students, had to purposefully put in additional energy into communicating with each other and engaging with the content. This is something that I will take with me beyond the course and employ in future learning and professional environments. This programme was such a privilege to attend. The calibre of speakers they had was incredible. It was the first opportunity I had to discuss these topics with people in the tech industry and I hope it won’t be the last.

The sessions were laid out in a casual enough way for me to feel comfortable engaging with the speakers and other students in the programme, and with such knowledgeable guests I’m very glad I was able to discuss the content with them. I will certainly be looking at future 360 International events and I highly encourage any other students to give it a go. I learned so much, both on the topics I had in mind going into this programme, as well areas I had never been exposed to.

Behind, Beneath & Beyond Social Media | CISaustralia

Wincy: Stockholm University Law Summer Programme (June 2021)

During the semester 1 break, I participated in 2 week intensive Summer Law programme held by Stockholm University. We were able to choose between the three courses of: International Arbitration Commercial Law, EU Public Law and another one. I chose to participate in the International Arbitration Commercial Law course as I intend to pursue a career in Commercial Law upon graduation.

So, the name of the course intrigued me the most. The Arbitration course comprised of 6 lectures in total, with three lectures per week including Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Each lecture was around 2 hours. Prior to each lecture, we were given a reading and assignment task to complete based on the reading. Completing the assignment task was essential to get a good understanding of the lecture before it commenced. As a whole, the course syllabus is laid out very nicely.

Each lecture was about a different topic, ranging from the basics/intro to international commercial arbitration, the arbitration tribunal, the arbitration procedure etc and most lectures had a different guest speaker. Most of the guest speakers were alumni of Stockholm University and had a great wealth of experience within the area of arbitration. The programme was relatively interactive, and often the lecturer will cold call on students to share their answers or ideas. At the end of the 2 weeks, we had sat an exam based on everything we had learnt which was on pass/fail basis. The coolest thing about the class is the diverse range of students.

In the first lecture, the lecturer made everyone say which part of the world they’re from and the current time of that country which was very interesting as we had approximately 30 students in the class that came from different sides of the globe. It ranged from Australia, Germany, London, India, China, Turkey and more which felt one step closer to it being a global exchange. Prior to doing this course, I had barely any knowledge about Arbitration. Now, I am able to tell someone about the basics, procedures, principles and other fundamental elements that is required of Arbitration.

I personally felt each lecture was very stimulating as I was thoroughly engaged and participated in the interaction where I felt I could. This is my first time participating in a virtual exchange programme, and it has been nothing short of an invaluable and enjoyable experience! I would highly recommend anyone to participate, it is an opportunity that encourages you to broaden your knowledge, think critically and challenge yourself. I’m sure you would have no regrets in participating in one.

Lastly, I want to thank the 360 International team for providing me, along with other students the opportunity, which has been a significant highlight in my university time so far.

Stockholm University - Wikipedia

Alyssa: ISEP Masaryk University International Relations and Threats to Global Security Course (July 2021)

Hi guys!

Over the inter-semester break I was lucky enough to attend a virtual exchange paper in “International Relations and Threats to Global Security” delivered by Masaryk University in the Czech Republic. I’d been planning on going on an exchange for a few years, but with everything that has been happening, this was not going to happen. But thanks to the Uni providing access to virtual opportunities, I was actually able to complete an exchange and make friends from around the world whilst staying in NZ. Thank you so much to 360 for this opportunity!

This course ran for 3 weeks in the evening and the topics we covered ranged from armed conflicts, cyber, energy and environmental security, and religious radicalism through to the refugee crisis.  Each topic was taught by a different lecturer who was a recognised expert in the subject. The course was really well organised with the assessments clearly enhancing our understanding of the content.

As there were only around 16 of us in the virtual paper, during the live lectures we were able to get into in-depth discussions, and gain perspectives on global issues from people located all around the world!

In terms of assessment, we were expected to complete mini assignments to test our understanding of each day’s readings before the lecture would begin. We were also required to create a 20-minute video presentation on how various crises affect European security and what Europe does about it.  We were expected to analyse the specific nature and causes of the crisis, why it matters to Europe and what the European response has been and its effectiveness. My group was assigned South Ossetia and Georgia. Other groups investigated Libya, Ukraine and Syria.  Discussions about each group’s presentations formed our final lecture for the course. This was a great way to round off everything that we had learned.  I will be putting the lessons from the presentations into practice in my final essay for the paper on a security issue which Europe has failed to deal with adequately in the recent past.

In addition to your normal zoom lectures, we were fortunate to attend virtual sessions hosted by the OSCE, Radio Free Europe, and the UN.  Masaryk University also arranged numerous social and cultural activities for us to attend over the 3 weeks.

I had a great time on the virtual exchange, and could not recommend it highly enough. Thank you again to everyone involved in making this exchange happen. If you have the chance, apply!

Amelia: Campus B Indigenous Rights & History in Brazil (June 2021)

Over the semester break, I participated in the Campus B Indigenous Rights and History in Brazil Virtual program. I pursued this program because I was curious about the livelihood of indigenous communities within Brazil, whether it is any different compared to the experiences of Maori and Pasifika communities here in New Zealand. I entered this experience curious and nervous as I wasn’t too sure of what to expect. But this mix of anxiousness soon vanished in the first session of the program. As the coordinators and participants facilitating the program, they all made me feel so welcomed. From this point on, the experience became a genuinely enjoyable and insightful experience. The classes were always punctual despite the virtual setting and time difference, which often can be bothersome to navigate. This was an insightful experience.

Through this opportunity, I learned that the experiences of indigenous communities in Brazil are slightly distinct from the experiences of Maori people in New Zealand. Furthermore, I realized that the indigenous people in brazil belong to more than 100 different communities. But despite this fact, it was incomprehensible to learn that the Brazilian government doesn’t recognise them as people and often tries to impose legislation that infringes upon their constitutional rights.

The program was also an enriching experience that contributed significantly to developing my skills. Specifically, it helped me to be more confident and effectively work collaboratively with others. Despite being paired up with strangers, my team and I still managed to collaborate ideally. We were still able to communicate effectively using social media tools and allocated times allowed during the program. Additionally, the program helped me immensely to advance my problem-solving skills. I was able to exercise this skill when I was tasked with formulating a solution that would assist Instituto Internacional de Educação do Brasil (IEB) in their current objective of empowering indigenous women within Brasil.

Consequently, I walked away from this program feeling more confident in my problem-solving abilities and even more confident in communicating effectively with other people. I am glad I decided to participate in this program because it broadened my understanding and view of the power dynamics between indigenous communities and their respective countries.

Additionally, I’m thankful for the opportunity to meet other like-minded individuals who shared my passion for understanding indigenous people and their struggles and are driven to create solutions to combat the challenges faced by these communities.

Fall Virtual Internship 2021 -

Daniel: WUN Online Summer School (July 2021)

The WUN Online Summer School hosted by the University of York was an enlightening experience. During the 12 days programme we discussed a variety of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs), as well as participating in workshops and social activities. The first session was predominantly focused around meeting the other 7 students in my regional group, being introduced to the course facilitators, and discussing the Google Classroom platform we would be using. Part of the course required us to watch pre-recorded seminars (most around 1 hour) from global academics and make notes on the key points. The topics we discussed ranged from ‘Reducing Inequality’ and ‘Life on Land’ to ‘Climate Change’ and ‘Pharmaceutical Pollution’. Despite not having extensive pre-existing knowledge on some of these topics, I still found them very informative, engaging, and easy enough to understand.

Due to the time difference we had live sessions Monday – Friday from 7:30-8:30pm and 9:00-10:00pm NZST. During the first session we discussed in our regional group (from Uganda, Taiwan and New Zealand) some key points from the seminar using a JamBoard, before being put into smaller groups to pose questions for the other groups to answer. In the second session we would either take part in interactive workshops covering topics like Leadership and Influencing, or we would have social activities which included campus and York city tours or discussing English culture.

Alongside the live sessions, we were split into teams of three to prepare a 3-minute presentation to be shown in the final session. Hence, we had to meet with our group (assisted by a mentor) to discuss our approach for the presentation. Due to our mentors’ research predominantly around urban planning and cities, we decided to do our presentation on SDG11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities.

This experience was great as we had to collaborate as a group from diverse countries and backgrounds to research and present on a topic. The key skills I learnt in both the regional group and project group were communication, critical thinking of unknown topics, and a wider appreciation for different perspectives and ideas. One example was for the 3-minute presentation, where we decided to highlight issues in each of our cities/countries. I had to: convey NZ’s key issues and listen to my teammates countries’ key issues, research and have a critical perspective on the topic, and I also learnt to appreciate the difficulties that other countries and people go through. Privilege was another topic discussed, so by engaging with some very intelligent students from across the globe I was able to realise the privilege that I have here in New Zealand.

In terms of challenges, some of the topics we discussed were very science-based and since I don’t have a science background I found some sections confusing. However, my problem-solving skills were developed by simplifying the information and making sure I could understand it easier. I am a night owl so the late sessions did not bother me, however the second week of the programme overlapped with the first week back at university, therefore I had to make sure I had good time management. I am in my final semester of university and I am very glad I took part in this programme due to the things I learnt, skills I developed, and people I got to share this experience with. I would highly recommend taking part in a virtual programme (or even exchanges – I did one in Canada and it was amazing) as you cover topics you might not be familiar with and work with a diverse group of people.

WUN Online Summer School at the University of York: Registration Open - WUN

Hannah: ISEP Service Learning Program in Barcelona (June 2021)

During my semester break at the University of Auckland, I volunteered at two organisations through the ISEP Virtual Learning Service Programme in Barcelona: Islamic Relief and the IBO Foundation. Working for both these organisations opened me up to a whole new world of humanitarian aid that I had never before experienced first-hand. Throughout June, I developed fundraising strategies for the humanitarian organisation, Islamic Relief. As a student in New Zealand, I presented the possibility of promoting the organisation within NZ schools to gain parents’ attention and potentially sponsor a child in a developing country, as one of my ideas. Other ideas included improving advertising of the organisation in countries where Islam is not the major religion. I discussed the potential idea of partnering with a Christian humanitarian organisation in New Zealand such as Caritas, which could enhance the effectiveness of both organisations.

By July, I began my volunteer work for a new organisation called the IBO Foundation. This foundation works primarily in the Ibo district in Mozambique which was unfortunately devastated by Cyclone Kenneth in 2019. As a result, poverty in this country notably the Cabo Delgado region, has worsened. My tasks involved updating the foundations’ database. This database was created by previous volunteers containing potential international donors that IBO could reach out to and ask for funding from. I updated the spreadsheet to a clearer format and contributed several ideas by adding contact details of other organisations that would potentially fund the IBO Foundation. Alongside this, I gathered research to update the organisations’ information on Ibo and the Cabo Delgado region. I specifically focused on the weakening tourism industry and also women empowerment in Cabo Delgado. The latter has always been an important issue to me that I aim to pursue in the future, so it was great to experience this type of work in a real-life situation.

These two experiences helped me to grow as an individual through interactions with my supervisors on the other side of the world. In this current pandemic climate, I have been able to experience a slice of Spanish culture without having to leave home! The most obvious cultural difference I observed was the relaxed nature of the Spanish. At times, this was a little frustrating particularly when organising a video call during the week. Often these did not start on time, a very different approach to what I am used to in New Zealand. In order to overcome this, I simply adopted the same approach and ensured that my schedule was free for a lengthy amount of time to allow for lateness or technical difficulties, as this was also a potential problem I identified early on. The time difference and limit to the internet made work a little more challenging but it certainly taught me the skills I will need as we enter an age of increased digital communication!

But all differences aside, the best part of the experience was, in fact these video calls with my supervisors. It was an incredible experience to chat with someone in Spain, and work with them and their organisation to improve the services. The potential of these humanitarian organisations to succeed and provide aid to those most in need is immense and absolutely necessary! To all future students entering this programme! Your intercultural competence will be tested to the limit. The variance in culture between Spain and New Zealand is much more vast than you may think and may be difficult at first! By going into this programme with an open mind and a willingness to improve yourself as an individual but also to support an organisation as best you can, you will gain an immense amount of knowledge and skills that will be beneficial throughout the remainder of your lives!

University of Auckland – ISEP Study Abroad

Maryam: CISaustralia BEHIND, BENEATH & BEYOND SOCIAL MEDIA (June 2021)

I have never partaken in a 100% virtual study programme. I was anxious, a bit worried but with a buzz of excitement. The program overview “Behind, Beneath and Beyond Social Media” was fascinating to read about. The program was about breaking down social media and exploring what underlies it and what goes beyond the social media we know daily. One of the biggest takeaways from taking this programme was now having a deeper understanding of the development in neuroscience on the issues surrounding the governance of personal data and the security and ethical issues surrounding this.

For example, a big development in neuroscience is having the technology decode neural data and controlling various communication technologies with the mind. Stroke patients, for example, are now able to use technology to recreate speech, an activity otherwise extremely difficult or impossible due to their speech motor functions being impaired. At the core of this, the patient is essentially using their mind to control a piece of technology. While this advancement in science is noteworthy, should this technology trickle into the public domain, massive issues around neural data sovereignty and security will arise. Our privacy is at high risk if appropriate laws, policies, and regulations are not in place before introducing these technologies to the public domain. You cannot ‘fake’ your own neural data, whereas on the web, you can carefully choose what to display and share. I have also become very wary and mindful of the data I put out online.

After a session about OSINT (open-source intelligence) and disinformation, I have come to fully acknowledge and understand how easy it is to collect personal data without hacking anything and steal entire identities. It is a terrifying thought. One that many don’t fully realise the extent of its dangers. From this programme, I have developed a fascination with the intersection between neuroscience, psychology, and communications. More specifically, I am interested in how we can educate the public in being better educated on the issues that arise from communication technologies that increasingly impact and affect data sovereignty. This has sought me to look for research that I can take part in to explore the implications further and, most importantly, how this will affect the public sphere. My anxieties prior to beginning the program were dispelled almost immediately after I had attended the online orientation session.

The session went through what was expected of us, what we could expect, and contact details should any issues occur. Heavy thanks go to the coordinators for the program for making everything highly organised and well put together. Information was consolidated nicely and was easily digestible. A big challenge were the session times. Session times were only confirmed around a week prior to the programme starting, and I could not attend the first and last session due to prior confirmed engagements. Though a bit delayed, recordings were provided to everyone who was not able to attend. Missing a session did not impact your understanding of the next session, as another guest speaker led each session, each with their topic.

Overall, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to take part in this programme. I would highly recommend anyone interested in data, neuroscience, social media, ethics, algorithms, or artificial intelligence to partake in this programme. They will benefit from gaining an increased understanding of how all these areas impact one another.

Behind, Beneath & Beyond Social Media | CISaustralia