South Australia

National Conference 2013: A Student’s Reflections

By · 13 October, 2013 · News

“The fact of the matter is, clichéd as it sounds, National Conference changed my life.”

In late July, ten South Australian students were chosen to attend UN Youth Australia’s National Conference in Sydney: a week-long summit bringing together 140 of Australasia’s finest minds. Upon arrival, our delegation found themselves thrown into a whirlwind of workshops, speakers, debates and more which would irrevocably change how they viewed the world.

Shannon Swart (Year 12) from Norwood Morialta High School, was one of those delegates – below, she shares her story.

National Conference 2013 was everything I was promised it would be. I didn’t get nearly enough sleep, I overdressed for nearly every occasion, and I ran around in my pyjamas at 3am telling other people how much I appreciated them. I wrote a letter to my future self. I was able to meet with the best Australia had to offer and now have a couch to sleep on in every major city in every state of Australia – even Tasmania.

The fact of the matter is, clichéd as it sounds, National Conference changed my life. National Conference 2013 focused on human rights, specifically those belonging to people who do not live in as privileged a country as Australia. The focus of UN Youth is ‘opening young eyes to the world’ and I believe, at least for me, this is exactly what National Conference did.

As a privileged white South African now living in Australia, I had many opinions that I had passed down to me, but was not informed on. Consequently, the education I received, the chance to listen and partake in different workshops and debates on different topics, the chance to engage in Model UN debate and see things from a global diplomatic view is an experience I will cherish.

After National Conference, the views I have been able to come with are now views of my own accord, fuelled by the creative and educational atmosphere created in Sydney by youth for youth. For this I thank them, and hope that this is continued so that more youth can have the same experience.

To read more about Australia’s premier youth conference, click here.

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