Awarded to only 22 Victorian students across Years 9, 10 and 11 each year, Year 11 MLC student Jasmine Xu, was one of the lucky victors in the 2020 Premier’s Spirt of Democracy Prize.
Students needed to write an 800-word essay, short story or personal reflection on the theme – “Ancient democracy is often viewed as a system of government where the citizens of the city-state held power. Is this an accurate observation of the democratic model in modern-day Australia?”
Surprisingly, an avid interest in politics was not a significant factor in Jasmine’s decision to apply for the prize. “I was interested in philosophy and was keen to learn about the history of democracy and the ancient Greeks,” she says.
She first spotted the Premier’s Spirit of Democracy Study Tour in MLC’s internal newsletter to students, the Student Daily, promoted by the Humanities department. Throwing herself into the task, she discovered a love for political philosophy.
The prize is designed to give students a deeper insight into modern-day Australian democracy through ancient examples, and winners are invited to travel on a two-week trip to Greece to explore the Ancient World sites. Unfortunately, the trip was cancelled due to COVID; however, last year’s winners are looking forward to seeing their essays published in a special edition book to commemorate their achievements.
Jasmine is excited to share her newfound love of democracy with her peers. She has participated in joint Monash University and VCAA research project on Civics Education and is planning a democracy education session for all Year 11 students in a General Period.
If a Greek study tour sounds like your perfect getaway, Jasmine has some hand-picked tips for aspiring applicants when the prize is next offered. “Firstly, don’t be afraid to enter your application. Even if it’s not successful in the end, you will still learn something from the process.”
Her second piece of advice? You won’t know whether you’re passionate about something until you give it a go. “Your knowledge and understanding of the topic will increase as you research and write the essay, and you might discover that you have an interest in something new!
“Who knows, maybe your application will get selected, and you will get the special opportunity to spend two weeks in Greece. You never know if you never try!”