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“We shall reinvent our world!”
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“We shall reinvent our world!”

Francis VenturaThe Australian city of Melbourne recently hosted delegates at the Harvard World Model United Nations. The week-long conference was an inspiring demonstration of youth potential and global promise, says Francis Ventura, 22, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Australia who was also a participant. 

The Harvard World Model United Nations is an annual gathering of around 2,000 students from all over the world. This year, in early March, it came to Australia for the first time and as expected, the truly exceptional city of Melbourne had a touching impact on all participants. 

I had the pleasure to co-Chair the Disarmament and International Security Committee, alongside my friends Damon Meng, Cara de Vidts, Jonathon Hausler and Alek Hillas. The role of this Committee in real life is to deal with matters that impact world peace. Our discussion focused on Foreign Military Bases, a matter that remains controversial even at the best of times. After days of vigorous debate, witty banter, painstaking negotiations and even an all-out Harlem Shake, a substantive international framework was agreed to by a vast majority of voting States. 

Other Committees dealt with pertinent world issues such as the situation in Libya, exploitation of migrant workers, mental health in regions of conflict, the fate of endangered languages and the Millennium Development Goals. These are keynote issues where young people managed to find real solutions in just a week of deliberations, through a mix of idealism and pragmatism and a touch of pure common sense. 

Often when people speak of the young, they speak of people who are immature, incapable, or inexperienced. Having been involved in youth advocacy and activism for a number of years, I have seen first-hand expressions of such patronising opinions. Yet there remains to be presented a single example of environmental degradation, mass poverty or war that was started or perpetuated by the youth. In the end, it is the young who always suffer disproportionately in such situations.

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The conference at Melbourne was a big time opportunity to prove the youth bashers wrong. As Peruvian delegate Maria José Pinto (left)– who won a Diplomacy Award in the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee representing Mexico – opined: ‘this was the perfect opportunity to show the world that the generation that is meant to shine in the future, is working to have a better present. It also gives you another perspective of life and the world, inspiring you and making you realize that there is more than you thought, redirecting your objectives to something that might make a difference one day’

One just needs to look around and witness the plethora of social initiatives that are being driven by young people. This very journal is a strong testimony. Once the potential that youth have to offer is unleashed, then anything is possible. The simple fact is that young people will not be silenced. We are the solution, not the problem. 

As a social science student, I was taught to provide examples and evidence. Well, I now have two thousand real-life examples to prove that we are not just the future but the here and now. German representative and DISEC Diplomacy Award winner Lucas Hornung, who 

represented the Democratic Republic of Congo, summarises it well: ‘It is safe to say, that the WorldMUN in Melbourne has touched the way of thinking of its almost 2,000 young participants. The Conference has inspired me to the maximum and the amazing delegates with whom I had the pleasure to work with give me hope, that the sustainable solution for ongoing conflicts might not be as far away as we think’

I trust that the Harvard World MUN will continue for many years to come, so that many more can experience a week of thrilling adventures. When young people work together to solve the issues that we face, we can achieve a world free of discrimination, war and poverty. 

The motto of this year’s Conference was ‘Reinvent Your World’, which was explained in a powerful and emotional closing ceremony address by Conference President Siamak Loni, whose family was forced to flee their oppression in Iran. We were inspired to not only imagine a better world, but also to make it happen. 

‘Reinvent Our World’ we shall! 

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About me:

G’day! My name is Francis Ventura. I am currently an Assistant Editor of yourcommonwealth.org. and the Victorian representative on the Australian Youth Forum Steering Committee.  

As Melbourne is the sporting capital of the nation, I have a keen interest in cricket and Australian Rules football. I also love exploring Australia’s beautiful environment. After my studies I would like to dedicate my life to human rights, with a focus on protecting civilians living in war zones or under totalitarian regimes.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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