TRAVELLING to East Timor as a United Nations Youth Australia delegate has given year 12 student Nick Young even more inspiration to excel as his final year of schooling draws to a close.
The Brauer College senior school captain was one of only a few young people to be chosen for United Nations Youth Australia’s annual Pacific Project trip.
The trip in the July school holidays opened his eyes to the challenges and hardships faced by the East Timorese people.
The group visited development projects, met diplomats, saw non-government organisations first-hand and experienced life in East Timor.
The 18-year-old has been involved in United Nations Youth Australia since 2011, participating in debating and attending state and national conferences. He went to Europe to attend a Netherlands conference last year.
Nick applied for the Pacific Project earlier this year and said he was lucky to be accepted.
“A lot of people applied, so I was stoked,” he said. “I had a little bit of international relations interest already from my other UN Youth stuff. I didn’t have that much knowledge about East Timor, but once I went over there I realised how much I really didn’t know.”
The group stayed at Encouragement House, a boarding house where children whose families live in remote and mountainous communities stay to access education.
“They were all so interested to learn,” Nick said.
“It was amazing. I met one kid my age who hadn’t seen his family in five years because he couldn’t get back up (the mountain) and wanted to stay and go to school.”
The group visited cemeteries where Indonesians and East Timorese are buried side-by-side despite their differences, taught English to young people and talked to them about their contrasting lives.
Nick is grateful for the opportunities UN Youth Australia have provided, which have shaped his career path. He hopes to study an arts/law degree next year and continue his role with UN Youth Australia.
“I can’t believe how fortunate I’ve been,” he said.
“It’s the experiences, but also meeting people who are really, really driven and successful at my age.”