From 20-23 February, students and staff from CQUniversity were invited to attend the Ashoka U Exchange in San Diego, California. The event brought together Changemaker Campuses from all over the world and provided the opportunity to learn, collaborate and network with people passionate about social innovation. Four of our Change Champ’s – Mignon, Rohit, Bikesh and Tolu – were among the students who represented CQUniversity at the conference and are excited to bring their new-found knowledge and experience back to their campus and share it with fellow students.
Mackay Change Champ, Mignon, was excited to attend the Exchange where she could further learn changemaker competencies of empathy, collaboration, creative problem-solving, and systems thinking.
“We had options to attend either interactive spark sessions, workshops or big idea talks/presentations. There were also site visits to local social enterprises and organisations committing to social innovation and research as well as tours of the University of California San Diego Campus,” she said.
The sessions they attended introduced new strategies and tools to activate changemaking not only in their personal life but in their studies and future career too. Melbourne Change Champ, Rohit, said that one of the best sessions was about changemaking through online education.
“Robin Dick (Program Manager for Social Innovation) spoke about iChange and his co-presenters explained how to bring the classroom format online, thereby making it accessible to anyone with an internet connection and is the format for the future of education,” he said.
Other sessions included hearing from people about their changemaker journey, their experience in setting up social enterprise and social innovation hubs for students at universities, as well as how individuals can make commitments to activate more changemakers. The students also took a tour of the University of California San Diego campus – a Changemaker Campus committed to social innovation just like us!
One thing that stuck with Brisbane Change Champ, Tolu, was realising there is a difference between reading the story and changing it.
“I am more inspired and committed to social innovation in ensuring we make the world a better place,” she said.
Sydney Change Champ, Bikesh, wanted to see the bigger picture of social innovation and learn about what is happening around the world.
“I gained a lot of ideas and tools in the conference and I have been thinking about how can I utilise them in my campus or in my life,” he said.
With CQUniversity being the only Australian university accredited as an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus, the event also gave students the opportunity to see international examples of social innovation and social entrepreneurship. They were able to see for themselves just how much is already being done around the world and the positive social impact it is having on local and global communities. They were able to see inspiring, real-life examples of social innovation being used in different fields of study and how they can potentially do the same in their career.
Although the Change Champs were sad to be leaving Ashoka after having made new friends and connections with people who share our same passion for change, as well as hearing from so many inspiring social entrepreneurs and innovators, they were excited to bring all of this knowledge and new skills back to Australia to encourage more people to start their changemaker journey and realise just how many opportunities there are for change!
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