Model UN conference eye-opener for teen
A trip to a Model United Nations youth conference last month has proven to be an eye-opening experience for one young South Otago student.
After delivering a speech on state surveillance to his South Otago High School English class in June, 17-year-old Gassan Otari was approached by his teacher.
‘‘Mrs Jory had some information about something called the Model UN youth conference, and told me I should think about attending,’’ Otari said.
‘‘So I put in my application and was accepted a few days later, which was pretty exciting.’’
Heading up to Wellington last month to join with and speak in front of another 250 young people with an interest in international politics and diplo- macy hadn’t appeared to faze the year 13 student.
‘‘We took part in a series of workshops, committees and lectures, plus there was a fun, social aspect with visits to the Beehive and dinner at Te Papa. You learnt to get on with your partners quickly.’’
Representing a range of countries in the role playing exercises, including Russia, Laos and Iran, had been eyeopening, Otari said.
‘‘We learnt a lot about the biggest issues affecting the world currently, and ways in which we might resolve them, or at least reach a reasonable compromise. It was good for honing your negotiation and strategic thinking skills, working quickly and cooperatively to find agreement.’’
It had also provided insight into some of the pitfalls of international diplomacy and the work of the UN, he said.
‘‘There are so many differing points of view that sometimes it can seem impossible to find agreement, which explains why it’s difficult for the UN to pass resolutions successfully. That doesn’t mean it’s not important to try, though.’’
Attending the conference had also given Otari further food for thought regarding possible future careers and ambitions.
‘‘I’m interested in a lot of different subjects and areas, so by attending events like this I’m hoping to find out where my true interests lie. I might try and study law eventually, as that gives you a lot of options.
‘‘As leaders of tomorrow, we’ve got an obligation to work together to make the world a better place.’’
UN Youth runs events across the year. Check out: unyouth.org.nz
South Otago High School student Gassan Otari attended a Model UN Youth Conference.