Friday, June 29, 2007


There is a glut of pictures in this post. I actually took over 60 (yikes!), so this is quite reasonable really. I was in Brisbane this last week for about 48 hours for the Strategy Day and the National President's Forum. It was fantastic! I was a bit disappointed by the weather though. Brisbane is north of Canberra on the coast, and everyone kept telling me how lucky I was to get out of cold Canberra to tropical Brisbane. Of course, the Tuesday we arrived it was the coldest day Brisbane has had in years! It was a couple degrees warmer than Canberra though, so I really can't complain.

Both pictures of Brisbane are taken from my hotel balcony. The other intern Brooke and I did get to walk around the city a bit in the evenings, but I didn't take any pictures on the street. It was a very trendy, youthful city from what I saw though. Lots of shopping, restaurants, clubs and pubs (much like the city centre of any large city.)

Brisbane's nick name is "Brisvegas." Having been to the real Las Vegas, it wasn't very similar. No slot machines, no posters advertising adult shows everywhere, no constant smell of cigaretttes. It was very commercial though, with lots of lights. Rather nicer than Vegas, I would say!

This is Brooke and I taking minutes during Strategy Day. It was the meeting of the AIIA's National Executive Board to plan the next year's agenda. I thought it would be the boring day, but I ended up being fascinated by the discussion. I really enjoyed learning how a not-for-profit runs, how they're trying to develop the organization, etc. They have so many exciting plans, and I wish I was staying longer to see them come to fruition?

Here you can see the Board, with an Australian flag hanging on the wall. The Board members are all very distinguished people. There are a couple former career diplomats, a few academics, and other interesting backgrounds. One former professor is now a consultant to foreign governments. He helped Chile negotiate a free trade agreement with China, advises South Korea on reunification, and China on its food safety problems. (I was seated next to him at dinner that night, and I had a fascinating conversation with him. We also talked about possible candidate for the US Presidency! It's amazing how well informed many people, especially at my work, are about US politics.)

We had dinner that night at a very nice venue in downtown Brisbane. The participants of Strategy Day and the National President's Forum were there. This is an Indonesian harpist who played background music for us. The theme the National President's Forum was "Indonesia: From Neighbour to Partner?"

Seated at this table, left to right, are: the Indonesian ambassador to Australia, the AIIA's President (who was so lovely!), a woman I can't remember (!), and the Speaker of the Queensland Parliament (Brisbane is in the state of Queensland.) I was seated next to the Speaker, who was also fantastically interesting to talk to.

Here's me! Typing away, as per usual, during the National President's Forum.

This is the meeting room for the Forum. It took place in Queensland Parliament House, which was gorgeous.

Here's a picture from the courtyard. You can see from the bright green flora that it's a much different climate than Canberra.

After the Forum, we went out to eat at an Indonesian restaurant with the people who weren't flying out that night. It was a very nice dinner, much more relaxed than the Forum and previous night's dinner. I got to talk for a while to a couple of the Indonesian participants who were super nice. They helped me steer clear from the really spicy dishes! (The food was fantastic - I'm going to have to find some Indonesian restaurants in the US.)

Here's the President again, with my boss in white and an Indonesian professor in green. My boss's name is also Melissa, and the President once addressed an email to the two of us as "Melissae," which would be the Latin plural if Melissa were a Latin (1st feminine) noun. I loved it!

Yesterday we fly out of Brisbane at 6am (ick!), went straight to work, and then after work I went straight to pottery class! It's been a very full week. Another intern from the Netherlands arrived yesterday also though, and I'm very excited. She's really nice, and we have already had a lot of interesting conversations about differences between Aussie, American, and Dutch politics, universities, lifestyles, attitudes, etc. We're going to get along great, and I won't have to work alone in the office anymore!

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