Ashlee Peacock attended the 40th UNESCO General Conference with the New Zealand delegation and spent two days attending and sharing ideas from Aotearoa at the 11th Youth Forum.
Youth from all over the world were brought together to discuss transversals issues that were relevant and common to us all, regardless of country, culture or religion.
Each participant came with their own particular expertise and experiences, adding perspectives to the common issues we shared. We were all strong in our view – that it was time for action. Each person worked super hard to get this message across! We had intense discussions, super late nights and time pressures, but we did it!
As a result, a set of very clear and very bold recommendations were formulated and presented to the Deputy Director General, UNESCO Secretariat staff and invited dignitaries. A youth community of practice was envisioned and pitched, and a working group was established to operate this platform.
The UNESCO 11th Youth Forum provided the space for youth to be bold and challenge the system. But even more importantly than that, we were able to come away with solid relationships. Over two days we connected, we shared, we were vulnerable with one another and we supported each other. We learnt, we cried, we laughed and experienced – together.
I will be forever grateful for the friendships and experiences I’ve had. Katelynne, Luciana, John Paul and Elyes, thank you deeply for your contributions to humanity, my heart is full.
The Youth Secretariat at UNESCO HQ, thank you for trusting us and allowing us to be at the table. To the NZ National Commission, thank you for your support along this journey!
To the UNESCO Aotearoa Youth Leaders, thank you for trusting in me to carry out this task and all your love and support!
And to my family, thank you for never-ending love and support.
I hope our youth continue to be visionaries. Recognise the value of your lived experiences and know that listening and learning from one another can be a force in moving forward. As you grow older, remember what it is to be young, remember to play, laugh and love!