Sitting to my left on the plane is Simon, a Queensland cane sugar rural entrepreneur. Simon is reading Nuffield Scholar Rob Cook’s inspirational autobiography. Two seats to my right is Dan, our Kiwi counterpart, whose rural enterprises include walking tracks and bee production. It’s six hours into our journey and I sit between them with silent tears trickling down my face.
I’ve always been an easy target for a tear jerker movie and The Butler was no exception. A movie about human rights and the power of an individual to have an impact on the future of a nation. The Butler was guaranteed to tear at my heart strings. Combine this with one of the most thought-provoking weeks of my life and I’m struggling to contain my emotion.
Simon, Dan, myself and six other 2014 Nuffield Scholars are currently flying on the first leg of our Global Focus Program (GFP). By all accounts it’s a five and a half week adventure of a lifetime, exploring the dynamics of worldwide agriculture. Our trip includes visits to South Africa, Kenya, Russia, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany and the USA.
I’ve heard comments that I’m just heading out on a holiday or a junket but if this past week is anything to go by, the days will start early, finish late and stimulate my mind to such an extent that it’s nearly impossible to sleep at night. We’ve just concluded one week in Sydney and Canberra at the Contemporary Scholars Conference (CSC).
The CSC is friendship-forming on steroids and a fast paced formula one education in all areas of global agriculture. I’ve found myself inspired by organic egg producers, fine wool growers, international bankers and politicians, to name a few. It’s left me with a deep seated desire to have an impact for the greater good.
Now I’m tasked with the difficult decision of how I’m going to do that. Should I be directing my energy into biological farming innovations; promotion of rural entrepreneurship; eradicating poverty in the developing world or the succession of young farmers? Or could I become a key decision maker in government and work towards all of these issues? The options are limitless and at 35 years of age, it seems like the perfect time is now.
This is where I believe the GFP will help me. I hope it will help me decipher where I can have the greatest impact and where my passion is strongest. In six weeks, after hours of intensive study and reflection I hope to be able to share with you my direction for the future.
Watching The Butler on the plane has reinforced the power of the individual and the power of the collective. In the case of this movie, it was to change black oppression. After this week I am more determined than ever to be a driver of positive change.
This is my first public blog post without using a pseudonym. Clicking to send my post live is proving rather difficult. It’s the fear of sharing my personal thoughts so openly. It’s the fear of being judged. Ultimately it comes down to the fact that if I am going to contribute to Australian agriculture then I must be brave enough to share my opinions with the world.
So here goes… I hope that in turn you’ll share your opinions with me as openly as I plan to share mine. Comments regarding this post are always welcome.