An overseas learning experience, even a short one, can be very meaningful and rewarding. The Victoria Shanghai Academy students who attended this month’s Yale Model United Nations conference in the US can attest to that.
The 15 Year 9-11 students who attended the overseas conference were the only representatives from Hong Kong who took part in the event, alongside more than 2,000 young delegates from 40 countries and 80 schools.
During the three-day conference, the students engaged in different committee sessions, and proposed resolutions for world issues, such as child marriages in Africa and carbon emission.
Young Post spoke to seven of the participants from Hong Kong on Monday to ask them to share their takeaways from the large-scale conference.
Albrina Chan, 15, noticed that the chairs at Yale, who were Year One or Two students, were not at all like the ones she has encountered in the past.
“They weren’t there to push us to make a speech if we didn’t. It was more about how each individual delegate had to go up and push themselves to participate.”
The experience, she added, enabled her and her peers to be more courageous and proactive when speaking in front of an audience.
She said the international participants seemed to have a natural confidence that made her reflect on how many Hongkongers, due to their fear of others’ judgment, would only express themselves when they were certain that their ideas were correct.
“Most the delegates weren’t afraid to speak up,” Albrina said.
“It’s really important to keep an open mind and speak even if you’re not sure whether it’s absolutely correct.”
Similarly, schoolmate Chloe Tan got the impression that none of the delegates were there to judge, and got the impression of a very positive learning environment.
“They value your ideas as long as you believe they’re creative solutions that people can try to implement, or are passionate about the topic in discussion,” said the 17-year-old. “It made me more confident in using English – my second language – for public speaking.”
Vien Yiu, 16, said the trip helped her step out of her comfort zone.
“We got to communicate with students from different parts of the world, and it didn’t matter if they shared a different stance from you,” said Vien. “It’s more about getting to know them and their culture.”
Valdis Ling, 17, was impressed by the other delegates’ communication skills and expressiveness.
“Everyone in the committee just had the ability to stand up and improvise. It was incredible to see […] them speaking with such confidence and clarity,” he said.
“I remember some of the best delegates weren’t simply making a stance, they were using language that would move and motivate the audience to support their block position,” added 16-year-old Jack Xiang. The trip, he added, had helped him to get over his fear
Daniel Chung, 15, was another participant who was inspired by the charismatic delegates he met. He said he seized the opportunity at the conference to break his old habit of reading from his note cards.
“Rather than focusing on facts and numbers, I tried to take it easy and deliver an emotional speech. It helped me to get more involved when making a speech.”
Alexander Wong, 15, said the international participants and Yale student organisers’ concern for world politics left a huge impression on him.
“My biggest takeaway from them was that if you want to do something, you have to be really passionate about it to make it happen.”
“The founding member of the March for Our Lives movement [US student David Hogg] spoke about his experience as well,” said Valdis.
“It was really insightful because it showed how one person can change an entire country’s perspective on an issue like gun control.”