Zoe Halstead

I just kept going and found every semester a little bit less daunting.

Zoe Halstead hasn’t been getting much sleep this year. 
 
The Bachelor of International Relations/Bachelor of Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies student is three-quarters through her year of learning new skills, which saw her start a podcast and take on producing duties at two radio stations. 
 
All that on top of her two jobs and committee roles with Oxfam ANU and the ANU International Relations Society.
 
“At the start of this year, I sort of decided that this is going to be my year of doing a ridiculous amount of things,” Zoe says.
 
“I figured even though it's difficult, it would make sense to do it all at once and be tired and busy for a year rather than slowly doing everything over a long period of time and always feel really busy.”
 
Zoe launched her podcast, Don’t Talk About It, in March this year. It aired on Woroni Radio in Semester 1 and explores religion, and across her eight episodes she’s covered Anglicism, Atheism, Baha’i Faith, Judaism and three Vietnamese triple religions of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism.
 
“I thought it would be an interesting perspective, of a young person going out and being like, 'I'm going to learn about this thing that's super controversial and everyone's afraid to talk about',” Zoe says.
 
She was also inspired by what she saw as an absence of positive coverage about religion in mainstream Australian media.
 
“I wanted to show what religion is for the majority of people that believe in it, and not the tiny minority that ruin it for everyone.”
 
Zoe’s interest in radio began when she was 16, when her mother put her onto the podcasts Planet Money and This American Life.
 
“I never really thought about it as a thing that I could do until probably last year.”
 
This semester, Don’t Talk About It has been put on the backburner while Zoe focuses on producing for Woroni Radio. She explains that the role involves providing live presenters with tech assistance, feedback, and general support.  
 
“I get to read the news nightly at 6 as well, which is a bit of fun,” Zoe says, laughing.
 
She’s also started producing for 2XXFM’s Caught in the ACT, about youth issues in Canberra.
 
“I'm pretty busy with that now; I need to come up with a six-minute segment every week.”
 
Unsurprisingly, journalism is one career path Zoe has her eye on. She’d love to podcast professionally, do news reporting, or become a foreign correspondent. 
 
There’s also a part of her that will always want to be a teacher. She already has a couple of years of experience under her belt as a French tutor, and coach for the Lake Tuggeranong College debating team. 
 
“If I teach, I’d probably want to teach French – Arabic if I could,” she says.
 
“Or if I do journalism, I’d really like to be doing stories that will use my language skills.”
 
Zoe is in her first year of learning Arabic, which fits in neatly with her Bachelor of Middle Eastern Studies. When she first started studying the politics of the Middle East, she didn’t know much about the region. 
 
“I just kept going and found every semester a little bit less daunting,” Zoe says. 
 
“I knew a little bit more and felt like I was accumulating this mass of knowledge and understanding.”
 
As learning Arabic begins to get more difficult, Zoe says she’ll start devoting more time to that and less to her other interests.
 
“That’s kind of my plan – we’ll see how it goes!”
 
 
Find and Follow Zoe on Twitter @zoe_halstead and Caught in the ACT on Facebook.
 
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Updated:  18 June 2021/Responsible Officer:  CASS Marketing & Communications/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications