In the middle of her Year 12 trials Ashleigh Chatelier, College Co-Captain of St Scholastica’s College, received a call she had been praying for.
Ashleigh was chosen through the United Nations Youth Organisation to attend a Middle Eastern Educational Tour in January 2020, to explore themes of nationalism, religion and statehood in some of the most exciting and spectacular parts of the world.
Selected as one of New South Wales’ two representatives, Ashleigh will join the 16-strong team to head to Tel-Aviv, Amman, Petra and Jerusalem. The educational experience focuses on developing a first-hand understanding of the work towards peace in the region.
Ashleigh and her companions will be meeting with representatives from Non-government organisations, Intergovernmental Organisations, representatives from the United Nations and Politicians to understand the roles of the different stakeholders.
The tour will visit both Israel and Jordan and throughout these locations those involved will discuss the roles of these key factors in crisis such as the Israel -Palestine conflict. The program will look at how Australia interacts with the region and what role we play in the greater international community.
Having commenced her Higher School Certificate exams, Ashleigh aspires to a career working in law and International Relations.
She began her UN encounter through the NSW UN Youth conference, before going to the National conference.
In May, UN Youth members were invited to apply to be part of the Middle Eastern Experience. After an extensive three-stage application process involving interviews and essay writing, Ashleigh was successful. Ashleigh attributes a keen personal interest in Human Rights to the development of her professional interest and aspirations.
“The UN Youth is great however there’s only so much you can learn from Australia. I’m extremely excited to be taking my learning experience to another level,” she said.
“I’ve always been interested by the conflict in the Middle East and the struggle between the Israelis and Palestinians.
“I’m intrigued by the role of religion in the conflict and in the region.”
Ashleigh has already met with some of the other delegates who will be joining her on the expedition, as well as the four facilitators who will be running the program.
A bit stressed out, Ashleigh is looking forward to completing her high school studies and beginning the next stage of her life with this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
UN Youth Australia is a youth run volunteer organisation.
We thank The Catholic Weekly for this article, published on 16 October 2019