Chhavi Breja: #FindYourBarbara

6 days, 1 hour and 32 minutes to go…


As we come to the end of our training weekend and reflect on the speakers, food, and maple syrup handles, I’m feeling bittersweet. I acknowledge that’s not really an emotion per se, but I’m feeling it. This weekend has been one of the sweetest, most perspective changing, informative weekends I’ve spent with the raddest, most well informed bunch of people. I'm a bit bitter though because I won’t see these people over the next week, which will be incredibly long and fraught with uni assignments...

The actual content of the weekend was incredible. Speakers (NZIER Principal Economist Peter Wilson, Hannah Lees from Teach First NZ, David Tong of WWF-New Zealand, Shamubeel Eaqub - economist and speaker at the OECD Forum this year, and Andrew Chen, a PhD candidate at the UoA) gave extremely informative and engaging presentations regarding a multitude of relevant themes from the OECD Forum (global cooperation, economic prosperity, digitalisation, social inclusion, inequality, and inequity). Finding out more about the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), seeing what the organisation does and how this ties in with New Zealand through the lenses of the environment, young people, and the economy was intriguing. What I found particularly interesting was the idea that economics, something I had previously written off as being a numbers game and little else, is all about people and society. Each speaker emphasised wellbeing and social action in their talks, which is something I resonated with, and look forward to exploring this idea further and seeing how it fits with one of this year's Forum themes: Inclusive Growth. 

Alongside this, AYLI Executive Director Rachel Dobric took us through the best slideshow I’ve ever seen and guided us gently through the ins and outs of being on an international delegation. Eleanor Parkes, Fellowship Mentor, took us through our Fellowship requirements, all exciting stuff that cannot be adequately paraphrased in a few words, although I did try  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

The presentation I took the most notes in was Shamubeel’s. Economist, author, and general cool guy, Shamubeel took us through many topics related to inequalities and the distinct roles of policy, economy, and social action. Many things were said, some serious, some hilarious. Baby boomers were held to account, and some possible future solutions pitched. He was relatable, engaging, and willing to answer all our questions. It was a fantastic opportunity to hear from him in a small group setting, as it is unlikely we will get a dedicated session like that with another speaker from the Forum. I won’t transcribe his whole talk (over 4 pages of notes) so if you want to know more about his work, I highly recommend reading his and Selena Eaqub's book - Generation Rent - as it will explain their ideas a lot more coherently than I’ll be able to. 

It was such a good session though, with some amazing takeaways, so I'll leave you with a few of the ideas that particularly stuck in my mind (for various reasons):

  • New Zealand is screwed if there is no population growth. 

  • Baby boomers will have to give up something, which will be difficult for them.

  • People complain their tax is put towards poor people... that's the point of tax, to help create a society where we look after and have empathy for those at a disadvantage. 

And lastly, 

  • The majority of NZ voters don’t care about poor people.

As well as the speakers, I really enjoyed engaging with my fellow delegates, I must admit I was apprehensive before meeting them, but any worries I may have had were quickly erased when I met Lucy, Harry, and our Head Delegate Bhavya for the first time. It's always heartwarming to find likeminded people who care about the same things you care about, and I genuinely cannot wait to hear more of their ideas and roam the streets of Paris with them. 6 days, 0 hours, and 36 minutes to go...

PS: If you’re curious about the origin of the inside joke that is the heading of this blog, and for other insider-only goss 👀, keep an eye out for more OECD Forum 2018 posts!

Until next time. 

All posts by Institute delegates reflect their own thoughts, opinions and experiences.

Posted on May 14, 2018 and filed under OECD Forum 2018.