I write this from New York, a city with almost as many residents as the population of Australia. A city that anything can be ordered online and delivered to your door, a city where more than 7 different languages can be heard on any street block. This is where I am based for the next 3 months at the Australian Permanent Mission to the United Nations as the Australian Youth Ambassador. I will be working on the 3rd Committee of the 66th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Since May this year I have been working up to this point. It seems that since High School I have been working up to this point – growing up in Tamworth, living, studying and working in Sydney before making a move to Melbourne which changed my perspective, goals and direction in life.
It truly is a once in a life time opportunity. Firstly to travel over 38,000kms from the east to the west coast of Australia meeting some of the most incredible, inspiring young people. Secondly, to address the United Nations General Assembly, representing Australian youth, what we as young people are passionate about and what issues on a local, national and international level impact us.
Over the past 6 weeks there hasn’t been much time for reflection and evaluation but I would like to share some of my thoughts of this whirlwind adventure I have been on, particularly over these past 6 weeks. Quietly listening to Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu I think I also need to digest what these weeks have brought to my life.
To give you a quick overview; since May I have only been in Melbourne for 9 days so I took the opportunity following the National Sister Cities Conference in Toowoomba to head home. I remained living out of my suitcase because it is a lot easier to pick-up and go when you need too. Its not that easy saying goodbye to partner ofcourse, particularly one that you never see but is always so supportive. I left for Sydney where I stayed 6 days, attended various meetings, including attending an Ifta Dinner – it is the feast to break Ramadan. I shared this dinner with a wonderful Turkish family and their friends as part of Affinity Interfaith Dialogue. A wonderful organisation that believe strongly that while we may come from different places and have different beliefs we can still share, learn and inspire each other. A special night that I will remember for a long time.
Before I knew it, I was on a plane ready for a 19hr flight from Sydney, via Dubai to Zurich, Switzerland where I attended One Young World. A conference that attracted over 1300 Delegates from over 150 Nations that supported discussions and debates on Global Business, Sustainable Development, the Environment, Leadership and Health. Out of the 300 applications I was lucky enough to be one of the six speakers chosen to speak on Leadership. It was a great moment but not my highlight. The highlight wasn’t the amazing speaker sessions or celebrities, although Sir Bob Geldof and Mr Desmond Tutu both took my breath away – picture old friends who love what they do, are both very wise and yet love to have a laugh, particularly at each other – this was them in their opening addresses.
My highlight was the conversations between sessions, the discussions over dinner and friendly handshakes followed by debates on global issues which often were followed by another handshake, swapping of business cards, a laugh and another Facebook friend. These moments stood out because you were talking to real people, people from various backgrounds, people driven by their own experiences, by their struggle for change in their nations, driven by a thirst for knowledge, understanding and global friendship.
At this conference, there were tears in the room, there were shouts of ecstatic young people and there were moments of piecing silence. Almost every emotion a person can feel in a lifetime was felt in 4days surrounded by newly found friends.
I returned to Sydney for 5nights – 2 were sleepless due to jet-lag, another was a wedding and dinner with my family, including my mother who made the trip from Dareton, NSW to see me off to New York. I arrived in NYC after another 18hr flight on the 12th Sept. 2011.
Since being in New York, I have had the amazing opportunity to meet our Foreign Minister Mr Rudd, Mr Quinlan the Australian Ambassador the the United Nations, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea and Tonga as well as Foreign Ministers of the United Kingdom, Tonga, Fiji, Sri Lanka and Nigeria. Infact, tomorrow morning I have a meeting with Minister Peter Garrett, Australian Minister for Youth (and rock star!).
A journey that began in May has become a lifestyle. A lifestyle of travel, living out of a suitcase and sleeping on couches, but also a lifestyle that inspires me on a daily basis, supports me when I’m jet-lagged or exhausted and a lifestyle that allows me to view the world differently and with greater empathy, understanding and awareness.
I addressed the 3rd Committee on the 3rd October 2011. In my address I had a particular focus on education, social responsibility and young peoples voices. Three vital areas in the ongoing development of society particularly a socially minded society. One that is equipped with the tools to address existing social issues particularly unemployment, food crisis and food security, environmental impacts and the ongoing financial and economic pressures especially in developing nations.
Over the coming weeks I will be working on a number of United Nations Resolutions addressing Financial and Economic crisis impact on youth, youth with disables and Indigenous issues. I will be working with 24 other Youth Representatives from 18 nations and together we continue to have a strong focus on youth inclusive policy and youth supportive frameworks.
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