UOW graduate Jasmine Brinsmead. Photo: Paul Jones

How a fascination with international affairs inspired Jasmine

How a fascination with international affairs inspired Jasmine

Graduate thrilled to take on overseas opportunities during degree

Jasmine Brinsmead has always been fascinated by the world around her. Perhaps it was the result of travelling a lot while she was growing up. Or perhaps it was a natural curiosity, fueled by exposure to different cultures.

She has always been intrigued by the big questions, by how the world works, how cultures and countries interact, and how conflict can be born from simple miscommunication.

“A lot of my travelling when I was younger was in South East Asia, and, like many other young Australians, I observed how the lifestyle we take for granted can institutionalise disadvantages in other societies,” Jasmine said.

“At a young age, I realised that there is very little difference between people; we all need the same things, we just have difficulty negotiating them with others.”

After receiving an Early Admissions offer, Jasmine began her studies at the University of Wollongong (UOW) with the aim of undertaking a double degree in Journalism and International Relations. But in her first year, she discovered that she was more drawn to the people she was covering as a budding reporter than to the field of journalism itself.

“I really loved journalism but in my first year of study, when I was out in the field, I was talking to these really profound individuals who were doing good things in the community,” Jasmine said. “I realised I wanted to spend more time participating in the things they were talking about rather than in journalism itself.”

Jasmine dropped her journalism degree and focused solely on international relations. It was the right decision, enabling her to dive into the world of politics, society, history, and conflict resolution. 

Now, she is celebrating the end of degree at UOW, graduating with a Bachelor of International Studies, majoring in Global Sustainable Development and minoring in Spanish.

Jasmine loved international relations; the topics, the lectures, the opportunities to debate global issues with other students.

“You are taught to understand the politics, the society and culture, and how these things differ across countries. I loved my degree, I really did. Asking those big questions and being able to debate those questions in a meaningful way was so rewarding,” she said.

“In this degree, they don’t tell you the answers, but you are taught how to think critically, how to evaluate power structures, and how to recognise our own biases when analysing an international affair.”

UOW graduate Jasmine Brinsmead. Photo: Paul Jones

One of the highlights of her time at UOW was getting the chance to be mentored by tutors and guest lecturers, such as Emeritus Professor Stephen Hill AM, former Director of UNESCO and UN Regional Director for Science in the Asia-Pacific.

That love of travel and of exploring the role was evident throughout her time at UOW. Each year of her degree, Jasmine threw herself into a new challenge that would boost her skills and develop her understanding of the world. In her first year, she spent a month in Fiji, as part of Project Everest, where she worked on a social enterprise for the local community.

“Every day, I was waking up and workshopping an idea informed by what the community believed would strengthen their society. I was engaging with different stakeholders – community members, government officials, major local employers – and helping a project to come to life. It was a real highlight,” Jasmine said.

The following year, Jasmine spent six months in Spain, on exchange at the University of Almeria. The experience helped her fluency in Spanish immensely. And in the third and final year of her degree, Jasmine landed a prestigious six-month internship at the Australian Institute of International Affairs, a non-partisan organisation. Here, Jasmine had the chance to write opinion pieces about global sustainable development and its implications for international relations as well as organise events with high-profile speakers.

Jasmine is now working for Nan Tien Institute (NTI) in Unanderra, a not-for-profit education provider and a teaching partner with UOW. As NTI is very connected internationally and adds depth of focus on humanity and international understanding, her experiences here are of benefit to her ultimate dream to work within Australian diplomatic missions overseas.

At the moment, while COVID-19 has changed her mode of work and her ability to engage with overseas partners, she is relishing the opportunity to learn about international relations in the private sector.

“I am able to use the skills I learnt in my degree, I’m gaining greater understanding of cultural differences, and I’m helping Nan Tien to grow our ties with other countries.” 

Now that she is on the other side of her degree, and making inroads towards her dream career, Jasmine encourages current students to take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way.

“There are opportunities everywhere at UOW. I made a point to get as much experience as I can,” said Jasmine, including contributing her first peer-reviewed paper to UOW’s new student-run international relations journal, Frontier.

“You should also try to meet as many new people as possible, and take advantage of the advice they have to offer. I met Professor Stephen Hill after he was interviewed in one of my classes,” she said. 

“I went up to him after the class, and started asking about his career and his work, and he has become a real mentor to me. In your degree, you learn so much about the theory, but he has given me so many tips and insights into what a career in diplomacy is actually like.”