Recently the Australian chapter of the National Student Leadership Forum (NSLF) celebrated its 20 year anniversary. The NSLF is an organisation dedicated to the development of Australia' and the South Pacific's future leaders through a multi-day facilitated activities and explorative discussions around the key concepts of faith and values and the role they play in shaping participant's leadership journey's. With the aligned organisational focus on betterment and development of the individual and their contribution to their communities, it makes sense that our director Giselle Wansa-Harvey would find herself over the years participating, facilitating and partnering with organisations like the NSLF.
In this anniversary year, Giselle fondly reflects on her fortuitous conversations and commitments made a decade ago in Lakepa, a humble town in the tiny Pacific Nation of Niue. With the vision and commitment, Giselle was enabled to apply her own skills in cultivating relationships and creating leaders to a joint project with the NSLF in a way that would deliver real results and positive impacts. Giselle’s extensive global relationships in this sphere mark continued work in cultural exchanges devised, developed, and pitched by Deep Waters Consulting for a number of organisations and networks all over the world.
In 2009, after identifying an opportunity for a cultural and project-based exchange programme, the first NSLF Forum Bridging Initiative (FBI) was launched. Fittingly named Pacific Odyssey, the project was the realisation of Giselle’s vision of a leadership development exchange programme to Niue after her discussions with Niuean MP Kupa Magatogia. It saw a group of 20 young New Zealand and Australian students travel to Niue to help build a community hall and participate in a week of leadership activities. Giselle’s work on the concept included developing the initial idea, cultivating the vision of what was to become the foundations of the FBI framework, as well as brokering the initial concept and stakeholder meetings between the NSLF leadership team and the leaders of those places FBIs happen in.
Since then, Giselle has participated in and worked closely with organisations similar to NSLF fostering cross cultural leadership concepts and contributing to other international networking and exchange programs. She has not only participated but facilitated opportunities for exchanges and peace-building projects to all corners of the globe—USA, Central America, the Middle East, the Balkans, and the Pacific.
Giselle’s work in envisioning the inaugural FBI was, and continues to be, instrumental in the development of young leaders as part of the NSLF, and the cultural exchanges have been a huge benefit both to those who travel far and wide with them, and those who host FBI groups.
Since 2009, Giselle has continued to work with an array of local and international organisations and stakeholders and has seen her cross cultural leadership exchange concept grow significantly from the original concept she first envisioned all those years ago.
As the catalyst for her involvement in year’s of cultural and international networking and exchanges, Giselle’s international experiences saw her set on a trajectory resulting in her undertaking a master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney.
The hall in Lakepa, Niue was successfully built in 2009, with a subsequent group of young leaders returning to Niue in 2010 to participate in Phase Two of the project and attend the Lakepa Hall's Ceremonial Opening. Since then, FBI cohorts have traveled to participate in projects all over Australia and the Pacific including the Northern Territory, Fiji and Tonga. Giselle’s work in bringing the unique skills and frameworks of Deep Waters Consulting to developing cultural exchanges have helped shape many young leaders over the years, a result she is more than proud to have.