Two of our students, Joachim Zens and Sheng Wen, had a unique opportunity to meet youth change-makers from over 150 countries at the 9th UNESCO Youth Forum held at the UNESCO headquarters in downtown Paris in October. Our students had been selected to participate as China's delegates representing, along with 32 others, the voice of Chinese youth. Joachim and Sheng were the only representatives from international schools in Beijing and among the youngest delegates. For two days 500 participants, aged 17-25, met to discuss the critical question of what actions are needed in order to see the change they aspired to.
Delegates had privilege to hear from many distinguished speakers, including the Director - General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova.
Joachim commented after the conference, ‘The forum was more than simply a conference on climate change. It provided us, the youth, with a chance to interact, exchange ideas and forge lasting friendships: whether it was through the inaugural dance ice-breaker on the Sunday, mingling at the provided international food trucks for lunch or through group discussion.’
Sheng added, ‘We were urged to be critical about our actions, and to plan also for the change we are aiming to make at a personal level. Joachim decided to take his love for photography and use it to raise awareness of the destruction happening in the Hutongs, where traditional houses are being torn down to make space for new development. I am committed to helping create an open dialogue about mental illness, through platforms such as Wechat, in order to provide an environment in which people can feel that they can be helped, and speak openly about the subject.’