And we’re off…

Welcome to AIEC!

My name is Stephanie Bethencourt and I am the Stakeholder Relations Officer at IDP Education, based in Melbourne. I have been asked to be this year’s guest blogger and I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences at the event over the next few days.

This is the second time I’ve been lucky enough to attend AIEC, and I must admit that last year in Brisbane I was quite overwhelmed by everything going on. So this year, I’ve decided to come prepared and am thoroughly looking forward to what is gearing up to be a fantastic event.

One of the things I really enjoy is getting the chance to meet up with colleagues from Australia and around the world. It’s not often that everyone comes together and it’s great to put faces to names that you email and voices you speak to over the phone.

This afternoon’s Welcome Plenary, by Dr Phoebe Wynn-Pope from the Australian Red Cross, was very inspiring and thought-provoking. She spoke about the work of the Red Cross in bringing humanity to even the most dire of conflicts through international humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention. Impartiality is a key feature underpinning this and their aid goes to those in the greatest need, overlooking race, gender and religion. Without this understanding from those involved on all sides of any war, the Red Cross would not be able to deliver their aid.

But, you may ask, what has this got to do with education? Everything apparently. Educating people about the laws of wars – during times of peace and periods of conflict – plays a key role to promoting understanding and tolerance, and pays dividends to ensuring that humanity can be found in the midst of conflict. Certainly some food for thought to start the conference.

I heard many delegates echoing my thoughts during the Welcome Reception, which was a fun way to end to the evening. I still have the samba beats of the SA Samba band ringing in my ears!

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