Congratulations to Casper McGuire, one of nine NZ students selected to attend the UN Youth Pacific Project in Australia and to visit Vanuatu.
Below is Casper's account of his experience:
In July this year I attended the UN Youth Pacific Project. I was one of 9 students who represented New Zealand at the Australian National Model UN Conference in Adelaide to learn about diplomacy. We then went to Vanuatu to see New Zealand development in action. This year the Australian national conference was held in Adelaide. It functioned just like model UN events that are held at a local and national level for New Zealand. Everyone was assigned a nation to represent in different debates in an imitation of how the United Nations operates, I was representing South Africa.
The topic of this specific event was ‘The Future of Democracy’. This meant that our debates were centered around how democracy works across the world, what an ideal democracy is and whether democracy is truly the best form of government. This was a great opportunity to learn about the subject on both an international and more local level. I learnt a lot about the ways in which New Zealand is unique in the world and how the New Zealand and Australian governments function and have changed over time.
We spent the second week of the trip in Port Vila, Vanuatu. This was a fantastic experience that taught me a lot about a drastically different part of the world. The aim of this part of the trip was not to experience the country as a tourist but rather as a learning experience on a much more local level. We stayed in a village just outside of the city and had many opportunities to meet the locals and learn about their culture. Another focus was New Zealand’s role in assisting the development of Vanuatu, what we’re doing now and how our aid could be improved.
The Pacific Project was an amazing experience that taught me a huge amount about the places that I visited and what makes New Zealand different. Visiting Port Vila was especially fascinating and eye-opening for me. One particular thing that stood out in my mind was visiting the national museum and getting a guided tour. In one day this taught me far more than I had known before about the region and the people that live there. I seriously recommend applying for the Pacific Project to anyone interested in politics, diplomacy and learning about New Zealand’s neighbors in the Pacific.