I was truly delighted when I heard the good news that I had been chosen to represent Scotland at the United Nations Model Millennium Summit and even more pleased that my school friend and debating partner, David McIntyre, could join me.Before I went to London I met Frances Mildmay, a delightful and intelligent woman, who is fully committed to her post as the United Nations Association Scottish Representative. Frances told me that I was to represent Venezuela and David had the slightly easier country-Belgium. It would be a lie to say that I was not shocked to hear that I had to represent Venezuala as I knew little about it, however, it turned out to be a very interesting country and I was eventually pleased with the choice.
David and I had the honour of representing the UN along with young representatives from all over the world, at first the task was daunting but, as we immersed ourselves in research our focus moved towards the task in hand. The reprsentatives of the countries had to propose and defend the views of their countries in the writing of a Declaration. This Declaration was then to be passed to the true heads of state later in the year.
The workload was truly immense and one night I only stopped work at 4a.m. (having started at 8.30 a.m.) and then was awake again at 7 a.m. for a sharp 8 a.m. start. I was very tired and had a glazed look on my face all day!
The main conference wqs held in London at the International Maritime Organisation with the guest speaker Ms Geri Halliwell. There each representative had the chance to voice their opinions to the other heads of state and to the audience at the other end of the cameras, which were,to say the least, in close proximity to the main lectern and so one could not help but be slightly nervous!
The days consisted mainly of meetings, deabtes and speeches. One of these speeches was given through a video conference and it was Kofi Annan. This was one of the highlights of the event as his speech was a true inspiration to all of the youths. Frances, David and I also had the pleasure of meeting the Executive Director of Ref Aid- Fiona Alldridge - and the spokesperson of UNHCR - Lyndall Sax, then we presented her with a cheque from Glasgow to help the third world from the horror of landmines. The money was given to the "Mine Awareness Programme" to help Somalian refugees in Ethiopia. The UNHCR representatives were helpful and charming and they also provided us with a delightful buffet lunch.
Luckily I also had the great honour of meeting Jacqueline Mora-Vayer the Venezuelan Ambassador in London. She told me of the great success of President Chavez in the election and also the problems of Venezuela. At this point I was re-educated and my view of Venezuela changed forever. Not only is it an oil rich manufacturing based culture, it has good education and other social services and is diversifying its economic structure to develop and stabilise.
The final VIP that I had the privilege of meeting was a real action man - yes, he was a platoon commander in the United Nations Special Forces. he gave an excellent speech on the horrors of war and the necessity of the UN Peace Keeping Forces. This man had truly seen the world and made me realise that western society is exceedingly luck and that we take even the most basic things for granted, such as peace.
The Summit ended when the Declaration was finally debated and then voted in. The vote was not unanimous with certain countries having problems with some of the capitalist ideas included in the proposals. However, the vote was passed and as Head of State for Venezuela I backed it.
It was a wonderful experience which I shall never forget. David and I may have worked very hard, but we also had an excellent time, however, as I believe my colleague may not wish some of our foreign antics to be divulged, my lips are sealed on the social sid e of things!Michael James Bowes, Aged 17, West End. Michael meets Kofi Annan in New York