Originally published in sknlist.com
A Kittitian youth delegate at the recently concluded 7th UNESCO World Youth Forum has described the opportunity as overwhelming and rewarding.
“I am extremely grateful for being able to represent the Caribbean as well as St. Kitts and Nevis at this prestigious forum,” said Ms. Patrice Harris, who was alongside 210 other delegates met in Paris, France from October 17-20 to discuss a number of pertinent issues which included but are not limited to youth vulnerability, employment barriers and counteracting youth exclusion.
While at the forum Ms Harris had the opportunity to meet and interact with American actor and producer Forest Whitaker as well as American actress, singer and philanthropist Monique Coleman.
“Their role at the forum was beyond that of motivation and encouragement; it also highlighted the level of humility and social consciousness that entertainers should possess of which I highlighted to them. What we often fail to recognize as a society is that we reap the rewards as well as the consequences of any act done in our society and as such we should all play active roles in strengthening our society; there isn’t any act that should not concern us” said Harris.
Additionally Ms. Harris was able to meet with Kittitian Von Michael Martin, a young professional working in The Bureau of Financial Management UNESCO, France as well as the Permanent Delegate to St. Kitts and Nevis Dr. David P. Doyle.
Ms Harris, a passionate youth parliamentarian did not shy away from representing her federation to the best of her ability.
She was one of twelve delegates who were involved in an official documentary to be produced by UNESCO and conducted an interview which will be used for official purposes only.
When necessary Ms. Harris made contributions as to what initiatives have been successful and as to where UNESCO can provide assistance so as to improve any initiative already in progress.
Ms Harris said she was able to vote on behalf of the young people of the federation on many controversial issues such as the inclusion of Palestine as a member of UNESCO.
“When voting on such issues I had to weigh the pros and the cons of what this decision will mean for my fellow young people. I also had to take into consideration what adverse effects this decision will have on my economy, environment, and society. Though other delegates may have had ulterior motives my first priority was to represent the young people of my federation and the region. At times it was indeed difficult to advocate for the issues of the Caribbean as we were often outnumbered by many other regions however we the representatives of St. Lucia, Grenada, Jamaica and St. Kitts were fully aware as to the importance of our presence at the 7th UNESCO Forum.” said Harris.
“While the initiative was indeed motivational, educational and timely most participants expressed disappointment with the time allowed for dialogue and discourse. The participants were very articulate and did not hesitate to inform the organizers of such a short coming. The enthusiasm, vigour and innovativeness displayed by the participants of the forum are something that every Caribbean youth especially Kittitian youth should possess especially if we want to drive change. 211 youth advocates from all around the world were able to make life changing decisions as well as influence heads of governments around the world. This of course was the highlight of my trip, the fact that I was able to be a part of history and influence a movement of change is something that will never be erased from my memory.” said Harris.
Ms. Harris is expected to return to her country and implement several projects and share her experiences with her peers.
As a participant of the forum it is also required of Ms. Harris to ensure that all future projects organised by her National Commission especially with respect to youth are in accordance with the agreed tenets of the final report of the youth forum.
“After attending the forum it is clear that there is a need for a UNESCO youth desk in my country, a project of which I intend to initiate and lobby for. It is also my intention to create a project of which UNESCO and SKNYPA can collaborate on, I hope to have this project executed by 2012.” said Harris
Ms. Harris has thanked everyone who supported her on this journey, her only wish now is that her society work cohesively to eradicate all forms of disunity and encourage peace among all.
“The 7th UNESCO Youth Forum marks a time when youth are raising their voices to claim their place in the future of their countries. The need to be heard, and to go beyond and actually shape decision making, is embodied in the objectives of the UNESCO Youth Forum,” said Harris.