On 26 and 27 August, Year 13 students Alisha Bedggood and Cleveland Grieg participated in Student CHOGM at Parliament in Wellington. Cleveland writes:

The National Student Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM) is an annual event where students from around New Zealand congregate to simulate the annual meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government.  Here we went through protocols similar to those that representatives of the actual Commonwealth carry out.  This included plenaries, which are essentially semi-official discussions between the representatives where different motions are put forward and voted on.  Time that wasn’t taken up by plenaries involved a lot of food and semi-disguised plotting.  We also had a formal dinner and a workshop, in which we discussed more of our personal views and feelings rather than those of our nation.

We came to Wellington as the representatives of Kiribati, a small island nation in the Pacific heavily threatened by global warming.  We would say the greatest asset that Student CHOGM offered us was an opportunity to practice public speech and debate in an environment full of charismatic individuals, and to be able to witness the running of New Zealand Government up close through attending Question Time.  It also was a step outside of our comfort zone; for Alisha this was her first time flying without an adult and so she appreciated this, and for me, Cleveland, this type of experience was new because I had basically never been anywhere north of Rangiora.

CHOGM as an event is something we really valued having the chance to participate in, even just to be able to interact with a bunch of interesting politically-minded young people.  It’s a very different environment but I think it has taught both of us some valuable things about public speaking and reasoning, alongside just being a fun time of course.

Also, special thanks to Rosemary and Graeme Wallis at Kia Mai International Student Christian Hostel for allowing us to stay there for the trip and for the great company they provided after the event was over.

By Tracey Veale

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