Model UN con­fer­ence eye-opener for teen

Clutha Leader - - OUT & ABOUT - RICHARD DAV­I­SON

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: un­y­


South Otago High School stu­dent Gas­san Otari at­tended a Model UN Youth Con­fer­ence.

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