United Nations Youth Australia Reflections

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic (early 2019-20 summer holidays) I was one of 16 Years 10-12 students from across Australia chosen by United Nations Youth Australia to tour the U.S. for the American Political Tour.

This tour sought to educate participants from an objective viewpoint on the complexities of the unique bilateral relationship between Australia and the U.S., so that we can improve political discourse and decision-making as future leaders.

Although the trip was jam-packed with a myriad of lifelong memories and phenomenal consultations, the educational highlights of the tour across New York City, NY, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, CA, were that we:

  • attended private International Politics and Global Economics lectures at Columbia University;
  • learnt about Australia’s role in multilateralism from the Honourable Mitch Fifield, Australia’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, as well as visited the United Nations NYC Headquarters;
  • consulted with Australia’s Political Ambassador, Paul Myler at the Australian Embassy, to learn of his role in protecting Australia’s interests within the dynamic U.S. political environment;
  • were educated on macroeconomics and Australia’s current and future impact in the global economy at the International Monetary Fund;
  • consulted with non-profit global policy think tank, the RAND Corporation’s Vice President, International, Charles Ries, a veteran U.S. Ambassador and senior U.S. foreign service officer himself, to learn of the impact of the institution’s objective analysis and research on national legislation;
  • toured the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defence, where we were educated on Australia and the U.S. combined military history and allyship;  
  • were guided by ‘The New Yorker’ journalist, Jason Chatfield, assessed the impact of Fake News and Truth Decay on dissemination of information in the U.S., Australia and the world, and how to combat it.
I am forever incredulous about how amazing this tour was from both educational and social perspectives and am extremely grateful to have been afforded this opportunity. In an increasingly polarised world in which new geo-political tensions arise every day, I look forward to using the knowledge and skills gained to assist in the future global governance and combatting fundamental challenges that threaten democracy, multilateral and bilateral cooperation and peace.   

Jodie Down Year 11 Student   

You can read more about Jodie’s experiences with United Nations Youth Australia, and Queensland Youth Parliament, in the upcoming edition of Vision Splendid – out September.