When the facilitators of the UN Youth State Conference informed us that this would be a life changing weekend, they were not exaggerating. This year’s UN Youth State Conference took place over the weekend of the 6 – 8 of March, and was open to students in grades 10 to 12. The first morning of this three day residential camp took place at the Gold Coast Arts Centre, then proceeding to the Bornhoffen Leadership Development Centre, set on the edge of Lamington National Park with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
The content of this highly informative weekend was no less extraordinary. Over the course of three days, I became aware of the complexity of several important international issues, especially aspects which are not discussed in popular media.
The conference was led by a large group of enthusiastic and welcoming facilitators (none of whom were over 25!) who led several educational workshops on topics such as the commodification of water and the International Court of Justice. There was also a social justice fair where NPOs such as Amnesty International, Oxfam Australia and Young Minds of the future were represented.
A definite highlight of the weekend was the annual dance, which this year had the theme of space. On the Sunday, we conducted our own model General Assembly, with 134 different countries attending. In these MUNS we passed and amended regulations on a variety of topics such as the deweaponization of space and the impunity of journalists.
Later that afternoon we took part in the Interactive Problem Solving which I enjoyed immensely. We were divided into groups and assigned to different stakeholders related to the Islamic State; I was a minister for Iraq. Over the course of an afternoon, a scenario related to the Islamic State unfolded and groups were forced to take actions and negotiate with other countries and organisations to help control the dangerous situation. This required us to keep an open mind set and make balanced decisions under a lot pressure- thousands of hypothetical lives were at stake.
The conference was a well balanced mix of intellectual and social experiences. I made lifelong friends with people all over Queensland, including our fellow QA students from Health Sciences. I sincerely recommend attending the conference to anybody who is interested in experiencing this unique opportunity to build awareness and skills to face the global challenges of the 21st century. I know everybody from QASMT who attended this year will surely return!
Kaavya Jha, Year 11 student