The European Union Ambassador, H.E. Maria Castillo Fernandez, delivered the 7th SHINE Distinguished Speaker Series at the Lakeside campus.
(L-R) Prof Perry Hobson (PVC), HE Maria Castillo Fernandez (EU Ambassador), Prof Jonathan Winterton (Exec Dean), and Ronson Nagarajah (INTELLECT)
It takes an experienced and optimistic diplomat like H.E. Maria Castillo Fernandez, the European Union (EU) Ambassador to Malaysia, to take on a topic such as “Chaos: Is there a turning point for humanity?” at part of the SHINE 7th Distinguished Speaker Series. Her opening quote, “Nothing is possible without men, but nothing is lasting without institutions” came from Jean Monnet, who is often regarded as the founding father of the EU.
While acknowledging that today’s geopolitical tensions seem to be deepening, and that they are no clear solutions to the escalating economic and social problems facing the world, she made the point that individuals can make a difference. However, she also emphasised the importance that global and regional institutions (such as the EU), have been able to make in improving society and changing people’s lives. She is also someone who believes in walking-her-talk, and has personally led EU members with local initiatives such as cleaning up Malaysian beaches, promoting cycling to preserve the environment, and reaching out to Taylor’s University to host the “EU Climate Change Diplomacy Day”
A diplomat who has lived in many Asian countries, she is also a strong proponent of student exchange programmes - having been on exchange herself back in the 1980’s. The EU has been supporting mobility within ASEAN through the SHARE initiative, and TU is one of only four universities in Malaysia to participate in this initiative.
The Distinguished Speaker Series is part of SHINE Award Programme, and the aim of the series is to provide students with an international understanding of trends and issues, as well as the impacts of globalisation on their chosen area of study or profession. With her efficacious smile, and an eagerness to take on a wide variety of questions from students, she turned what began as a presentation on somewhat difficult topic into something that was very engaging and positive.
Reflecting on the event, Ms Nancy Lee, the co-ordinator of this SHINE Distinguished Speaker Series said, “It was truly a meaningful evening of diversity with students represented from different countries, and I think everyone left more convinced that the statement that “nothing is possible without men” (or women) can also inspire each of us to try and make difference in what often seems to be a chaotic world”.
Professor Perry Hobson added his thanks to H.E. Maria Castillo Fernandez for her contribution, saying, “we appreciate the time you have taken to share your thoughts with our students, and also that you have make time to meet with our European exchange students and staff, as well as those students who we have here from ASEAN funded under the EU’s supported SHARE mobility scheme ”. For more information on SHINE click here - (Global Matters 2017)