The Academy for Young Diplomats was inaugurated on Monday October 26, in a virtual ceremony attended by hundreds of students, parents and educators. Later that week the academy held its first major event, a Model UN conference for 50 elementary school students on the topic of Human Rights and Drones.
The Academy for Young Diplomats, an initiative of the the Petah Tiqva municipality and overseen by Mrs. Rachel Amrani, will provide diplomatic training to outstanding elementary school students, including strengthening spoken English skills, MUN simulations, international relations debates and discussions with diplomats. This is believed to be the youngest age MUN and diplomacy training program in Israel. In total, several hundred students from a dozen classes around the city are being trained.
Mrs. Rachel Amrani, director of the Chen Young Ambassadors School and founding director of the Academy for Young Diplomats, opened the evening by welcoming all of the guests. She introduced Mrs. Tali Toledano, the director of the Elementary School division in Petah Tiqva, who then told the students how excited she was to have been part of this important initiative, and how much the teachers and principals were counting on the students. The mayor of Petah Tiqva, Mr. Rami Greenberg, addressed the students and reiterated the dedication of the city to supporting youth empowerment. Mr. Ron Katz, the head of the Education Department in Petah Tiqva also spoke, expressing his own support for this important initiative, and hope that it would continue to grow. Mr. Ohad Hursendi from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the students about the importance of communication and learning different perspectives in conducting diplomacy.
Following the formal speeches, several alumni of the Young Ambassadors school spoke. The alumni, now university students or in army positions, talked about the skills and invaluable experiences they had gained through their time in the Young Ambassadors program, and wished they had had the opportunity to start in elementary school. Several principals of different schools also talked about their excitement to be able to offer this program to their students.
Just a few days later those diplomatic skills were on full display, as the first MUN conference of the year was held. 50 students from the first few schools to open the program: Bar Lev, Ein Ganim, and Haim Hefer, represented a range of countries as they discussed the merits and humanitarian concerns stemming from military and civilian use of drones. After an intense three hours of speeches, debates and negotiations, the committees were brought to a close with a roll call vote.
During the closing ceremony, Mrs. Amrani expressed her admiration for the hard work and exceptional diplomacy she had witnessed in the committees. She also thanked the dedicated chairs of the committees: Gaia Gol, Rotem Getraide, Maya Jerbi, Ameen Agbaria, Yehonatan Bashi, Itay Rechav, and Yoad Hershkovitz. The chairs of each committee seconded her words, stressing how impressed they were with the high-level debate from students at their very first MUN conference. Finally the award winners were announced: Inbar Levy (Brazil), Yoav Deane (Japan) and Talia Rupin Pinhas (Peru) received Outstanding Delegates and Lia Katsevman (Czech Republic), Yaara Gross (India), and Yonatan Oren (Ireland) received Best Delegate in the first committee. In the second committee, Yehuda Lavi (Australia), Lavi Golan (Estonia), Koren Druker (Poland) and Hadar Englandar (Slovenia) were the Outstanding Delegates, while Bar Swift (France) and Kfir Levita (United Kingdom) were the Best Delegates.
Naomi Fellert, who represented Germany, summarized the feeling for many first time students when she told Diplomacy.co.il that the conference was “a lot of fun...I learned many things and felt like it really helped me understand. I found the topic very interesting and worth studying. In retrospect I can’t believe that I was nervous to first join.”
Mrs. Rachel Amrani, the Director of the Academy for Young Diplomats, said that the academy was opened to start the education of a new generation of Israeli diplomats from an even earlier age, and provide them with the opportunities to learn and experience diplomacy. It offers a wide variety of lectures, programs, workshops, and a wide variety of simulations, and other learning opportunities. These lessons are meant to give students a greater understanding of what is going on in the world, in the UN, an understanding of international politics and the intricacies of the world of diplomacy, as well as improving the ability to discuss, analyze and express oneself, spoken English, debate, negotiation and decision-making.
The next MUN conference will be an international one, held on November 22 and examining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Photo credit: Academy for Young Diplomats