A Student’s Perspective: The Honourable Julie Bishop MP Visits St Catherine’s
On Friday 22 February 2019, St Catherine’s had the privilege of hosting The Honourable Julie Bishop MP for a series of events held across the morning. One of those events provided our VCE Global Politics and Legal Studies students with a remarkable opportunity to participate in a ‘boardroom style’ meeting with Ms Bishop. The students utilised this extraordinary opportunity to strengthen their understanding of the VCE curriculum content with pre-prepared questions focused towards their learning from her extensive experiences, both in parliament and as the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Year 12 student and Senior School Co-Captain Georgina Cottrill prepared the following account of the meeting.
Our VCE Global Politics and Legal Studies students participated in a boardroom style meeting with Ms Bishop in the Dining Room of Sherren House. The students utilised this extraordinary opportunity to strengthen their understanding of the VCE curriculum content with pre-prepared questions focused towards their learning from her extensive experiences, both in parliament and as the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
During her time with the VCE classes, Ms Bishop shared her unrelenting focus as Minister of Foreign Affairs on empowering women and girls in our neighbouring countries. Her belief of ‘our region, our responsibility’ was the driving force behind the distribution of Australia’s financial aid. This reminded me of the value of own Heyington2Highlands program which is underpinned by an education of the UN Sustainability Goals, most notably – empowering Women and Girls.
The Honourable Julie Bishop MP left most of St Catherine’s School in awe; perhaps it was the incredible green gown she wore, or, more likely, it was her inimitable presence and unforgettable words, that of a powerful leader many of us have idealised.
I was lucky enough to be one of the girls who partook in the ‘boardroom style’ discussion with Ms Bishop, which was an incredible opportunity for the VCE Legal Studies and Global Politics students to ask the pressing questions which had arisen during our classes. It was not only her composure and intellect in answering our questions which impressed us, it was also her down-to-earth nature.
Despite the clear contrast between Ms Bishop’s unparalleled experiences in her careers (and of course the sophisticated gown), and our classroom-bound knowledge (and school girl dresses), she notably gave each and every one of us a handshake on first meeting and respect within the discussions. Not quite what you always expect after hearing stories of other politicians’ behaviour.
We definitely did not approach Ms Bishop lightly when it came to asking questions. There was a significant variation from the very political and tough questions – such as asking for her opinion on the significance of the recent medical bill for refugees in offshore processing – to more personal questions – such as whether she preferred her law or politics career more (a subtle battle between the Classes). No matter the topic, Ms Bishop astounded us with her poise and in-depth answers. Through her responses, she enlightened us to a new perspective, which is rarely highlighted in the media, on issues surrounding us locally, within Australia, and also globally. I think we all got particularly excited when this involved different world events which we had studied. These discussions have definitely equipped us with the knowledge we need to ace our Legal and Global Politics exams!
After the meeting, Ms Bishop gave an address to the Senior School. She touched on the notion of aiming high and not letting others define you – mixed in with a few jokes about avoiding the media after her announcement of leaving politics – as well as some fascinating stories about her time as Foreign Minister and in Parliament. I think my inner ‘fan-girl’ came out when thanking her for her speech, although everyone seemed equally as impressed as I was when gathering around Ms Bishop after Assembly. Overall, this experience was monumental and something that will stay with everyone at St Catherine’s School for years to come.