People to People Leadership Summit, Washington D. C, 2011

I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to represent my school and my country in the Leadership Summit on International Diplomacy, organized by People to People International, held at New York and Washington DC. The program lasted 10 days, from the 15th to the 24th of June 2011. It was attended by 133 delegates from over 30 countries.

People to People is an international organization, founded by former US President Dwight D Eisenhower, to promote peace through understanding. Every year, the organization brings together the youth from different countries, as part of its programs on various themes, which results in an exchange of ideas and understanding of cultural differences among students.

The program I attended was on International Diplomacy, which involved model UN sessions, debates and talks on current international issues. Throughout the program, we also got the opportunity to visit many places of historical importance, in and around Washington DC and New York. The entire delegation was divided into groups, each group having a teacher leader, who was a People to People Representative. Each delegate was assigned a country and was given a few issues to do research on. These issues were later taken up for discussion and debate in the various model UN sessions. I was assigned the country Iran and was part of its Social, Cultural and Humanitarian committee. Each delegate was assigned a country other than his/her home country, so that all of us could learn more about another country.

In New York, we were accommodated in Columbia University, where we had all the initial activities like orientation talks and group discussions. Columbia University is an Ivy league Institution, founded in the 18th century, situated in the heart of New York city. It has produced 79 Nobel laureates and 17 of them are part of its faculty at present. While in New York, we had only 1 model UN session, however, we did a lot of sightseeing and attended a few talks by dignitaries such as the Iraqi ambassador to the UN. These sessions were all interactive and they helped us to develop an insight into what international diplomacy was all about. In New York, we had the opportunity to visit the Statue of liberty, UN Headquarters, Ellis Island, Ground Zero, Wall Street and Times Square.

The 2nd half our program was held at George Washington University in Washington DC, where we had most of our Model UN sessions and debates. The delegation slowly started working towards drafting resolutions for the various issues that were given earlier.

This involved lots of research work, which was divided equally among the members of our committee. All the inputs each of us received were later consolidated into our resolution.

As the delegate representing Iran, I was able to suggest two amendments to one of the resolutions presented in the Mock General Assembly, and the resolution, along with the amendments, got passed in the General Assembly.

In DC, we could visit the World Bank, the world’s largest museum – The Smithsonian Institution, Library of congress, The Capitol, Saudi Arabian Embassy and Washington Monument. We also visited the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

On the whole the program was a great learning experience. I got to make a lot of friends and working with them helped me learn more about their countries. The Model UN sessions helped me gain a lot of knowledge on the working of the UN and its bodies. I learned that any international issue can be solved if people from countries all over the world learn to respect and accept the cultural differences that separate them. As said by President Eisenhower, peace is not made between countries, but between people who live in them……..

Sidharthan

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