During the summer holidays, Phoebe Burns and I travelled to Geneva, Switzerland, where we took part in a Model United Nations (MUN), which is a student simulation of the proceedings of the United Nations. Participants are assigned a country to represent and take part in debates around specific topics. We were part of the first ever New Zealand team of 12 to attend this conference along with 10 Australian students.
The trip was 19 days long and consisted of being billeted with a host family in a small town called Ferney Voltaire, France or in Geneva. During our first week there, we stayed as a team at a hostel in the heart of Geneva. During that week, we participated in French lessons every morning, which were very entertaining, and gave us an opportunity to get to know everybody in our groups. During the afternoons we were lucky enough to visit the World Health Organisation, The Red Cross Museum, United Nations High Commission for Refugees, European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) and enjoyed a walking tour of old Geneva.
While visiting these organisations we were able to meet many interesting people who had fascinating international jobs and opened our eyes to career options, as well as our world in general.
During the weekends, we stayed with our billets who took us on many fun adventures such as skiing in the French Alps, ice-skating, touring Swiss/French villages and tasting the Swiss/French cuisine.
During the second week, we had a few fun days, which consisted of scavenger hunts around Ferney Voltaire, crepe making, and of course shopping. We also had a meeting with the Australian and New Zealand embassies where we met the ambassadors. One New Zealand diplomat, who works on the Human Rights Council, motivated us to find out more about human rights around the world.
Finally, there was the amazing MUN conference. The Opening Ceremony was held at the Palace of Nations, the home of the United Nations Office, and the debates were held at the World Intellectual Property Organisation building; both were incredible venues. The conference discussed a range of topics that are extremely important worldwide issues, such as the sustainable development goals, waste and Artificial Intelligence. We were on the Artificial Intelligence and Ethics committee representing the Czech Republic. The conference lasted three days, during which we made worldwide connections with other students and engaged in thoroughly interesting debates.
Overall, the trip to Geneva was a life-changing experience and really opened our eyes to the world and our part in it.
Matilda Ellis, Year 11