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Newcastle’s Ria Ramdas, the 15-year-old UN delegate in the making

Newcastle's Ria Ramdas, the 15-year-old who is becoming a UN delegate
"It is in this celebrated event whereby Ria found herself flourishing. But how does a Grade 9 learner from St Dominics Newcastle get selected to join such a prestigious international event?"

Regardless of only being 15 years of age, the political powerhouse, Ria Ramdas is on course to change the world. Recently, Ria participated in an international event, The 2020 Change the World Virtual Model United Nations (CWMUN).

Being an international meetings program taking place annually and attended by more than 5000 eager students from around the globe—the event sees the participants factually and intensely debating significant issues pertaining to the international political agenda. 

The event is hosted in several cities being; New York City, Abu Dhabi, Singapore and Rome. Moreover, the CMUN selects and plans special educational activities, choosing among the most important global issues to be addressed to the overseeing committees. For example, global warming and climate change, water shortages and sanitation, peace and security, human rights, poverty and hunger, social and economic development, globalisation are all subjects which can be addressed.

During the conference, students from various countries work together to present concrete solutions on the matters under discussion, as if they were in a real-world forum, studying and discussing critical geopolitical issues.

It is in this celebrated event whereby Ria found herself flourishing. But how does a Grade 9 learner from St Dominics Newcastle get selected to join such a prestigious international event?

She explains, “During the lockdown, I watched a lot of debates, and I was intrigued. I then looked at how I could become a part of the Change the World Virtual Model United Nations.” 

Shortly thereafter Ria found herself being accepted into the event, something which she is immensely proud of—adding to her elation, she was selected as a delegate for the CWMUN. “It is an amazing opportunity, as the youth don’t always have the opportunity to have a voice in certain issues. But through programmes such as this, we as the youth can be involved and help find the necessary solutions and change the world,” she affirms.

As the captain of the team, Freedom Team BIOM, Ria states they focused on the topic of the displacement of refugees and people during the COVID-19 pandemic—which saw them preparing during the final week of October 2020 for the three-day event, from 9 November to 13 November.

Freedom Team BIOM formulated a string of resolutions on overcoming a series of challenges which are often faced in these camps. This saw Ria leading her team on how they were going to handle the debate, focussing on sanitation, water, hygiene and education for children in the camps. Such was the quality of her and her team’s presentations that Ria said when it came to voting; her plan saw 14 voters for it, three against and one person abstaining.

With the vote seeing Ria and her team clinching second place, she now has the opportunity to travel to either the Emirates, New York, Rome or Singapore on a scholarship from the CWMUN. She points out, “This will cover all the expenditure and paper.”

While the pandemic is still hampering travelling, she is looking forward to the new year and the golden opportunities which await her. 

Furthermore, this young leader announces she intends to become a human rights advocate—thereby making it her career in ensuring no one’s voice goes unheard.

Ria being a proud St Dominics Newcastle student, head of the high school department, Needha Hurrichand, explains that Ria has been a member of the school’s learners representative council (LRC) for some time now. She expounds, “Ria has always believed she can help others.”

So much so, that Hurrichand says, Ria often strives to improve and better the school environment for her fellow learners.

In conclusion, this local political powerhouse shares words of wisdom with her fellow teens, “Don’t ever be scared. Even if your voice shakes, go for it and speak up. You never know what can happen.”

As Ria’s light glows brightly, St Dominics Newcastle salutes her and her achievements. Her accomplishments resonating the importance of standing up for what is right, and even when nervous, to always “go for it”.

Authors: Quinton Boucher and Calvin Swemmer

Edited: Calvin Swemmer

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