On 17-19 March, Year 11 student Rebekah Batson attended the UN Youth Australia NSW State Conference in Collaroy, NSW.

This year, the conference focused on global issues, human rights and multiculturalism, with a specific focus on ‘Multiculturism in a World of Change’.

The UN Youth Australia website explained that, “the State Conference is an event for anyone with an interest in international affairs. It’s a chance for you to meet like-minded peers and share your thoughts on issues affecting the global community. By the time you leave, we guarantee you’ll be better aware of what goes on in the world around you and more importantly about the role you can play in shaping its future.”

According to outgoing Deputy Principal, Dr Michael Barton, Rebekah was more than ready for the challenge and opportunities that attending such an event entailed, saying, “Rebekah delivered a powerful speech last year at the Maria Kisich Public Speaking Competition, which provoked the audience to consider the fundamental human rights of women. It’s therefore not surprising that Rebekah’s passion for human rights has led her to participate as a leader of the United Nations Youth Conference. She is an exceptional young woman, with the drive and determination to be a voice for those that are oppressed.”

We caught up with Rebekah a few weeks ago to learn more about her experience at the 2017 UN Youth Australia State Conference.

Q. What were some of the major activities you participated in at the conference?

A. Mock debates, speaker panels and workshops were held to further students’ understanding on multiculturalism, and the way the United Nations functions. I personally represented Iraq in these events, and had to take into account Iraq’s real values, beliefs and opinions when voting for or against resolutions brought forward in debates.

Q. What are some of your most memorable moments from the conference?

A. Most memorable was the disco, with the theme ‘heroes and villains’, where I made friends with a huge group of Canadian exchange students, who were great.

Q. How did you get involved?

A. I applied directly through the UN Youth website.

Q. What were some of the outcomes for you?

A. I had previously done inter-school programs such as regional debating and other competitions; however, definitely nothing of this scale. There were over 200 delegates and it was amazing to be surrounded by such like-minded and passionate people, and especially the conference being held in Sydney. Being immersed in a different environment and having independence is always advantageous.

Q. Why do you think something like this UN event is so important for students to be involved in?

A.I believe events such as those with the UN are really great to be involved in, particularly if you’re that way inclined (e.g. international relations/urban geography), as it gives you access to resources, competitions and opinions you may not be exposed to. That said, this can be found in many fields, and so competing or getting involved in anything on such a large scale is something I really recommend.