Nine countries in four weeks was more than just a European trip for Sujneet Kaur Johal.
The Girraween High School graduate, 17, was one of 16 students selected for the United Nations (UN) Youth Australia Young Diplomats Tour last month.
She attended consultations about the repercussions World War II has on European and world politics.
Sujneet met with significant European politicians, UN representatives, diplomats and leading thinkers. They included Helen Brady, Head of Prosecution Appeals for the International Criminal Court, ABC’s foreign correspondent Lisa Millar in London, German negotiator for climate change Karsten Sach and UKIP member Raymond Finch. Topics included the refugee crisis, climate change and Brexit.
“I gained a deeper understanding on the role of diplomacy and the evolution of nation states shaping our global community,” she said.
“I have a passion for change and social policy. I wanted to broaden my beliefs and it gave me a different perspective on these issues.”
As the only western Sydney student in the delegation, Sujneet shared her story to encourage more young people to add their views to the political conversation.
“I’ve been involved with UN Youth Australia since I was in year 11 when I attended the state conference,” she said.
“From there, I was selected to attend the national conference. As an Indian Australian, UN Youth Australia has allowed me to voice my opinions, which have been nurtured by my cultural upbringing as well as understanding how I can convert my views into real change despite my young age. The more understanding young people have of the issues, the better the world will be.”
She has a strong stance on refugees.
“Europe has had a huge influx of refugees compared to Australia because it’s on the other side of the world. Personally, I think Australia needs to lift its game.”
Sujneet will soon start a combined degree in law and economics at UNSW.
“My favourite city of the trip was The Hague in the Netherlands. I see myself working there one day. There were more bikes than cars, which was very refreshing to see,” Sujneet said.