Student Finds Future In Geneva

WTO Dep DG Yerxa

JCU Student Molly Mahlouzarides attended the World Trade Organization Public Forum in Geneva in September. Back on Australian soil, she said the forum opened up her options for the future.

FIRST SESSION: Molly Mahlouzarides (third from left) with her fellow delegates at the WTO public forum in Geneva

By Molly Mahlouzarides and Stine Pjaaten

The World Trade Organization Public Forum ran over three days, from September 24 to 26 in Switzerland, and was attended by government representatives, non-governmental leaders, businessmen and academics.

“It ran as a series of sessions where there was a panel of various high-level experts discussing selected trade-related topics like intellectual property or the emerging economic powers,” Ms Molly Mahlouzarides said.

The Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Law student said what she particularly enjoyed about the sessions was the interaction between the panelists and audience members.

“Despite being among the youngest at the forum, there were many times that I, or another member of my delegation, was able to pose pertinent and challenging questions to the different panels,” she said.

The delegates also had the chance to personally meet many of the figures they saw speak during the forum.

“The caliber of the people we met was amazing – from the WTO’s Deputy Director General Rufus Yerxa, to the CEO of eBay and members of European Parliament,” she said.

“Having intimate access to such influential people was incredible and Global Voices really made sure we got the most we could from those networking opportunities.”

MEETING THE PANEL: The Global Voices delegates with WTO Deputy Director-General Rufus Yerxa

Ms Mahlouzarides said one the highlights of the trip to Europe was their private meeting with the Deputy Director-General of the WTO, Rufus Yerxa.

“He had such a sharp intellect and wit, and he was so warm towards us,” she said.

In preparation for the trip, the seven delegates each wrote a research paper on a chosen topic. Ms Mahlozarides wrote about the plain packaging legislation regulating tabacco sales in Australia.

Her paper has been published by Global Voices since the forum. She said she had the opportunity to discuss her research with Mr Rufus Yerxa.

“It was great to talk to him one-on-one about my research on Australia’s plain packaging dispute. He seemed genuinely interested in the case and valued my perspective as a young Australian,” she said.

Ms Mahlouzarides said she gained a lot from the experiences in Geneva, and her insight into the unfamiliar fields of trade and economics ignited some new areas of interest.

“My existing knowledge of international relations has really been put into context by seeing leaders of different governments interact in person,” she said.

“I have already enjoyed sharing my newfound knowledge with my fellow politics students upon my return and they seemed to really engage.”

The forum showed the young delegates how Australia is represented in different areas and industries on a global scale.

Ms Mahlouzarides said it was encouraging to meet the diplomats who work within Australia’s Permanent Mission to the WTO.

“The forum has exposed me to possible career goals and opportunities,” she said.

Ms Mahlozarides said her time in Geneva was the best week of her life.

She said it really showed global opportunities are available to Australian students, even those studying at regional universities like JCU.

“The fact I was able to access such an incredible opportunity is a credit to the ongoing partnership between Global Voices and JCU,” she said.

Global Voices is a team full of passionate and motivated young people and I look forward to seeing the great things our partnership with them brings in the future.”