A look into our past present and future
This month we look at a Canberran, Mark Rowe whose 2009 exchange to Germany set him on a globe-trotting path which has seen him spend time in some far-flung places, learning about issues as interesting as little-known German colonialism in the Pacific.
Marc is pictured on his exchange in 2009 and at Cambridge University in 2020.
Year of Exchange: 2009/10. Valerie Rozen was my Group Leader
School: Canberra Grammar School
Sponsor: DB Schenker
Town/City of Exchange in Germany: √úbach-Palenberg, NRW and Lübeck, Schleswig Holstein
Studies on Return from Exchange: Studied Arts/Law at ANU with majors in Spanish and Political Science. Went on exchange to Colombia, the US and China.
Career Path since then:
After being the SAGSE Group Leader in 2014-5, I interned at the Australian Embassy in Berlin, thanks in large part to SAGSE networks and my German skills. After finishing university, I have worked in the UN System with assignments in the Solomon Islands and the Samoa Multi-Country Office. Curiously both Samoa and the Solomon Islands have a little-known German colonial history. I have occasionally been asked to translate some 1800s document or other.
Und jetzt ‚– and now?
I completed a Masters at Cambridge University in England in 2020. I then got COVID-19 on the plane returning to Australia for a wedding, so the last couple of years have been eventful to say the least! After some long-COVID symptoms I started working with UNHCR on asylum and statelessness issues. I am looking to stay in the UN system or make the jump into government in 2022. I made the most of my time with COVID to learn Russian so hopefully will get to use that at some point soon!
How has the SAGSE Exchange experience influenced your life's journey?
My SAGSE experience was transformative for me both personally and professionally. It gave me the confidence to know that I can move to the other side of the world, meet people who speak a different language and have a different culture and not only survive but thrive. It also helped to drastically improve my German which continues to be an indispensable asset. There is always a German in every hostel in the world; and UN office for that matter. SAGSE has also opened up innumerable doors professionally. For example, a GASSie helped me to get a clerkship at a top-tier law firm. I am indebted to my sponsor DB Schenker and to SAGSE for giving me this opportunity that has influenced my life-path in so many positive ways. I am indebted to the fellow GASSies who have given me a place to sleep in places as far flung as Argentina and more towns in Germany, Australia and New Zealand than I would be able to count. I am also grateful for the many enduring friendships that I have been able to develop through the exchange. These span across generations of the organisations and around the globe. Most recently I found myself at formal college dinner in Cambridge seated next to a GASSie who I met at a party on my first night in Lübeck in 2009!
Many of us, like Mark, retain a deep connection with the people we met on our exchanges; fellow stipis, host families, and all the random acquaintances we made along the way. Please consider taking out or renewing a SAGSE membership to keep us viable in these challenging times, so that our exchange emerges stronger than ever from the pandemic and future world citizens like Mark can share this formative experience.