Don’t miss out! UN Youth opportunities for 2017

Pacific Project

Applications are open for this year’s Pacific Project: an educational trip to Australia and Vanuatu in July 2017. This year’s trip will be visiting Perth for the prestigious UN Youth Australia National Conference, where delegates will attend workshops and hear speakers on the theme “The Innovation Revolution”, about innovations in technology and design. Then we’ll be heading to Pango Village, Vanuatu, to educate ourselves on life, culture, and experience in this Pacific nation. How might we, as New Zealanders, engage with a different Pacific experience? How does our perspective shape how we understand ourselves and other people? We’ll be selecting 10 delegates to attend this trip from the 2nd of July until the 19th of July at a provisional cost of $5,200.

Short-form applications are closing soon, so get in fast! Apply now!

For enquiries relating to Pacific Project 2017, contact Director Michelle Thorp at michelle.thorp@unyouth.org.nz

Aotearoa Youth Declaration

Held at Auckland University on April 21st to the 24th, Aotearoa Youth Declaration is a forum bringing together young New Zealanders from around the country to learn, discuss and formulate solutions to issues in New Zealand, ultimately producing a declaration of Youth recommendations. Over four days the participants work in targeted focus groups to create policy and value statements on a broad range of issues. The result of this is the empowerment and education of young people, as well as the Youth Declaration, a document which reflects the youth voice.

During the 2017 conference, we will have a significant focus on empowering students to continue being active in their community in accordance to the Declaration. By using the Declaration as a tool, we will show young New Zealanders how to engage with their elected representatives, make submissions and foster change in their communities through local community groups and businesses.

We strive to make Aotearoa Youth Declaration as affordable as possible for students and parents. We offer a limited number of scholarships for Participants who struggle to make the financial barrier of attending our conference. We have a Regional Delegation, led by senior UN Youth volunteers who arrange group accommodation for the participants, alongside supporting them with travel arrangements and acting as a mentor and welfare officer for them throughout the conference.

Applications close Wednesday 1st of March found here!

Diplomacy Competition

The Diplomacy Competition is an online Model UN, run throughout the year in four rounds. It aims to develop a different skillset from our typical Model UN conferences, and allows for continued engagement throughout the year. Best of all, it’s entirely free!
A team for the Diplomacy Competition’s Junior or Senior divisions can consist of anywhere between one and four members. Once you sign up, you’re registered for all four rounds of the Competition, and have the chance to win both the individual rounds and the competition overall. Each round has its own prizes, and the topics can range from the use of nuclear weapons to the future of outer space, or responding to an international incident. Each round is divided into four different phases, beginning with research and amendments and ending with voting and marking.

For more information and registrations, take a look here. Round one registrations close March 8, so sign up now to avoid missing out! Sign up here!

Washington DC – We have arrived!

So-called ‘planned’ capital cities are known for being sterile, soulless places – Canberra especially, but also Ottawa, Brasilia, Nay Pyi Taw in Myanmar… Washington DC, on the other hand, seems so far to buck the trend. We arrived under cover of darkness at around 1 o’clock on Wednesday morning, after a scenic but turbulent 5-hour flight across the country. We were struck immediately by the cooler air in the capital, though the small dirty piles of snow remaining had been helpfully swept to the side of the runway. Shuttles took us to our centrally located hostel, and we rushed to our rooms to get some sleep.

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On the road again!

Luckily, we had a leisurely day ahead of us as we awoke. Some of us slept longer than others, but for lunch, almost all of us trudged a minute down the road from the hostel through the heavy slanting rain for some greasy Bolt Burgers. We then dispersed, visiting whichever museums we wished – all of them free and excellent. Some of us visited the National Air and Space Museum and found themselves upside down locked in a flight simulator, supposedly shooting down enemies when in reality they were struggling to orientate their selves; some the National Museum of American History where they admired all the first lady inauguration ball dresses and read about past presidents. Others experienced the US Holocaust Memorial Museum – the story it told was no less harrowing or moving for the fact that we already knew the ending. It was dark by the time most of the museums closed, and then we all found our own dinner in groups and chilled out for the rest of the night.

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The fantastic women of the US Supreme Court and their admirers
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The First Lady inauguration gown exhibit

We started our second morning in the Capital with much-needed coffee, free Politico newspapers, and a trip to the DC Peace Corps office. Communications Coordinator Jessica Williams told us all about her work with the Michelle ‘Arm Goals’ Obama supported ‘Let Girls Learn’ campaign. She then went on to describe her experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Malawi. Volunteers, who are mostly college-educated young people, spend three months getting trained up before spending two years living in a developing country; they live and work in a local community, build relationships, learn about life there and share their own American values. Jessica also explained the challenges of adjusting to life back in the US and told us about how grateful it made her for what she had. Communications Director Melissa Silverman then spoke to us about both how they work to recruit volunteers and how they address criticisms of the organisation. While it is difficult to overcome the initial defensiveness, she explained that they try to respond with transparency and learn from their mistakes so that they can tell a story of progress.

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The DC Peace Corps Office

After lunch, we met John Mullen at his swanky office where he works for McLarty Associates, an “international strategic advisory firm” (by his description) made up of former politicians, ambassadors and other notable people, which advises companies on entering new markets around the world. He talked a bit about his work, focussing on his area of Australia and New Zealand, but spent more time talking about juicier topics. He teaches a course at Georgetown University (in DC) called ‘Asia-Pacific Integration and Trade’, and so had a lot to say about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement signed the previous day, defending its economic and geopolitical importance for all countries involved. He lauded the ever-increasing closeness of the relationship between New Zealand and the US, now allies again in all but name. And finally, he weighed in on the unpredictable US presidential elections taking place later this year, convincingly linking Trump’s popularity to a national undercurrent of discontent with globalisation (or, more bluntly, to “angry old white men” afraid of a rapidly changing society), but predicting a Clinton-Rubio race in the end. It was a rare treat for us to hear from someone so willing to share all his behind-the-scenes experience in and knowledge of both New Zealand and the US, and we all valued what we learnt from the wide-ranging discussion.

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“McLarty Associates, an ‘international strategic advisory firm’”

After a quick stop at the hostel, it was finally time for our DC city wander. Like all good politics nerds we made a beeline for the White House, but our plans were foiled by Secret Service blockading the street just as we arrived. Obviously Barack hadn’t heard that the StatesMUN delegation was in town or else he surely would have rescheduled his meeting with the Colombian president. With Obama a no-show, we continued on our tour, only to immediately hit another blockade around the corner. Eventually the delegation escaped and made it to the imposing Washington Monument. Then it was past a waterless reflecting pool to the Lincoln Memorial for a final round of selfie-taking with honest Abe. After three hours of exploring the city and several security encounters, we were all sready for a quiet night back at hostel.

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Our small glimpse of the White House
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“The Imposing Washington Monument”
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Name’s remembered at the war memorial

Written by: Nick Fargher and Claire Black

San Francisco days 3 & 4 – Adventures Continues

Following a desperately needed sleep in, we sprung to life to enjoy our third day in San Francisco. Our morning was spent exploring the city during some free time, followed by a photogenic cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge, leading into our inaugural group dinner and ‘Wildcats Circle of Life’.

During our morning of exploration, the delegation visited a number of San Fran’s famous locations. One group departed the hostel on a mission to view the painted ladies through their cell phone screens, a widely adopted group policy. On their journey the crew also encountered the Four Seasons houses, the infamous ‘That’s So Raven’ house, and dined at the Rainforest café.

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Chinatown is one of San Fran’s most iconic districts

Another team found their way into Chinatown and took full advantage of the myriad of identical souvenirs featured in every store. Unfortunately a splinter group decided to return to Fisherman’s Wharf before discovering Chinatown’s main attraction: The Chinese New Year Flower Fair. A plethora of food, trinkets and entertainment flowed through the bulk of the neighbourhood. This group continued on to explore the Financial District, enjoy the stunning views from the Coit Tower, observe a Sunday Service at the Saints Peter and Paul Church in Little Italy, and stumbled across the San Francisco Art Institute. Another group experienced some delicious Tunisian cuisine – one of the many cultures present in the Bay area.

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The San Fran Art Institute

In the afternoon the delegation mounted up on bikes and headed out to the Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito. On our journey of exploration and drama we discovered the gigantic Palace of Fine Arts, gazed upon gorgeous views of the Bay, inconvenienced serious cyclists, crashed into the mud (well someone did), and almost left behind a bag full of passports. A much needed ferry ride carried us back into the city.

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Looking like tourists in front of the Golden Gate Bridge
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The view of the city at sunset
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The Golden Gate Bridge

During the evening, we ventured half a block to our group dinner at a Thai restaurant, followed by the first ‘Wildcats Circle of Life’. This involved recounting highs, lows and insights garnered from the city in a uniquely Disney setting. Our most profound insight was the poverty and homelessness just outside our door in the Tenderloin. It really put into perspective the racial and economic disparity still visible in America and provoked questions about poverty globally.

Day four began with the delegation finally coming to terms with jetlagged mornings, acutely aware that tomorrow we would simply be kicked back even further from New Zealand’s clock, but somehow it didn’t deter us from being overly excited every day. Powering forward, we stole free bagels from the hostel breakfast to stow for lunch and made our way out on to the San Francisco streets towards our first meeting of the day with Felipe Navarro, an International Fellow at the Center of Justice and Accountability.

‘Massive Biceps’ the security guard (Nik also admired his inflated triceps) greeted us at the bottom floor of the building, before sending us up to a tight knit team of attorneys and directors, where we were ushered into a room with coffee and a self-described ‘little Columbian guy surrounded by amazing people’ – SPOILER: Felipe was certainly no insignificant Columbian.

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Look at us all at the Center of Justice and Accountability

The CJA essentially works to deter torture and grave human rights abuses, bringing those responsible to account through civil litigation that employs US legislation and aligns with international law. Felipe himself has worked closely with cases involving Spanish speaking victims and perpetrators, and had made his way to the CJA after working for the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, the Refugee and Human Rights Law Clinic, and as a Columbian lawyer. The delegation was in awe due to how passionate and knowledgeable he was regarding the globally significant work that is done at the Center, and although he acknowledged the fine line between valuable amnesty and unjustifiable impunity, he left us with words that resonated with us all – “how can you look ahead without acknowledging the past?”.

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Awesome to see the super cool NZTE office
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Great to hear about NZ’s role in international trade

After saying goodbye to Biceps and hello to shops in Westfield that haven’t yet journeyed to New Zealand, the delegation popped out 10 blocks along and 17 floors up in the Financial District, confused as to whether or not we were in a café/table tennis tournament/Silicon Valley TV Show, or the reality that was New Zealand Trade and Enterprise with Adam Bennett. We learned how subtle differences in NZ versus US business can stump Start-ups looking to expand, and that 10% growth was a cop-out goal, why not 10x? Suddenly our once Harvard bound political study tour had turned into us collectively planning our business ventures, obviously prompted by Adam’s enthusiasm.

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Massive thanks to the Global Fund for Women

The final leg of our jam-packed meeting day was at the Global Fund for Women, where our resident full-on feminists felt infinitely validated by the wonderful and well-travelled Jane Sloane. Inspired by such notable figures as Nelson Mandela, Al Gore, and Sheryl Sandberg, she shared how her journey to her position as Vice President of Programmes was propelled by a passion to support women around the world who were capable, strong, and powerful, and to give them a voice where people had neglected to. The Fund has resulted in Nobel Prizes for women, the eventual end of civil wars, and an emphasis on lived experiences being broadcasted to the world rather than people speaking for – and over – women.

The day finally ended with us all crammed into a single room, celebrating our final night in San Fran, borderline crying with laughter as the face-swapping app made an appearance. We <3 San Francisco!

Written by: Nikolas Black and Lisa Dick