The United Nations Youth New Zealand Model Parliament event, held annually, offers students a unique opportunity to step into the shoes of decision-makers and grapple with the complexities of governance.
One student, Ethan Peng, a Year 10 student from Sargood House, attended this conference where he played the role of a Member of Parliament for the ACT Party and worked in the Foreign Affairs committee.
Ethan was curious and a touch nervous about attending the Christchurch-based event. Little did he know that the event would become an unforgettable adventure, filled with new friendships and a deeper understanding of the intricacies of parliamentary proceedings.
One of the first aspects that struck Ethan was the diversity of participants. People from different regions, races, genders, sexual orientations, backgrounds, and educational levels gathered at the conference united by a common goal: to engage in constructive dialogue and decision-making.
Remarkably, the event welcomed individuals of all levels of confidence and knowledge regarding parliamentary proceedings. Whether a seasoned Year 13 student or a newcomer to the world of politics, there was something to learn and contribute for everyone.
For Ethan, a standout element of the conference was the opportunity to put his debating skills to the test. The conference often puts participants on the spot, requiring them to defend or challenge ideas in a civil and respectful manner. It was a chance to refine these crucial skills while gaining insight into the art of diplomacy and negotiation.
Perhaps the most heartening revelation for Ethan was witnessing passionate debates conducted with civility. In an age when heated disagreements often turn rancorous, the conference showed that respectful discourse is not only possible but can be a powerful tool for progress.
Ethan’s experience was filled with memorable moments, including humorous "joke amendments" that lightened the atmosphere while showcasing the participants' creativity. While these joke amendments may not have made it into official proceedings, they served as a testament to the camaraderie and sense of humour that pervaded the event.
In the end, the UN Youth Model New Zealand Parliament event left Ethan with a profound appreciation for the complexity of governance, the importance of diversity, the power of diplomacy, and the potential for civil discourse. It was an event that not only expanded his horizons but also left him with cherished memories and newfound friends from all walks of life.