International ambassadors for Germany’s young people

In late February, Sabrina Reindl (23) and Patrick Rohde (24) took up a new challenge. As United Nations Youth Delegates, their task is to represent the interests of young Germans at the UN General Assembly. Shortly after taking up their posts, the two students tell diplo.de about their reasons for becoming Youth Delegates, as well as their expectations and goals in the coming months.

Why did you decide to apply for the post of UN Youth Delegate?

Sabrina Reindl: Working with children and young people is especially important to me and I’ve been engaged in youth work for many years now. The focus of my studies is international politics, geopolitical processes and thus also the work of the United Nations. The Youth Delegate programme offers me an opportunity to combine both interests and, what’s more, gain experience in the sphere of international youth work. Furthermore, the programme is a very good opportunity to reach out to a large number of young people, to arouse their interest in the United Nations and (global) politics and, in particular, to motivate them to become active themselves and to demand their right to be involved in all decisions affecting their lives.

Patrick Rohde: I’ve been involved in the BdP, the German scout movement, for many years. As I’m part of a generation which largely only knows about the fall of the wall between the two German states from history books, it was mainly more recent events, such as the Kosovo conflict or 9/11 and its consequences, which got me interested in politics. For me personally, the UN is therefore a forum for intercultural exchange and conflict prevention. I believe that the task of the UN Youth Delegate lies at this interface. I want to present the UN’s work to young people in Germany and to discuss its benefits with them, as well as to clearly address its shortcomings and to work on possible recommendations on improving it.

Your tour of Germany begins in just a few days’ time, as does the dialogue with young people. Do you think a Youth Delegate has to have certain qualities?

Sabrina Reindl: Youth Delegates are, first and foremost, the voice of young people in Germany. It’s first of all important to be able to put aside your own (political) ideals and identify and discuss UN-relevant topics with young people. For this a Youth Delegate needs sufficient experience in working with young people as well as basic teaching skills and empathy. A Youth Delegate should know how to pass on knowledge to young people, which formats are suitable for this and how to interest young people in an issue. Above all, a Youth Delegate must be able to listen, take young people seriously and motivate them to play an active part in shaping their own lives. Moreover, you have to have a certain measure of idealism to tackle the work in New York, which can surely be difficult at times, with enthusiasm.

Patrick Rohde: He or she should be capable of working in a team and be able to take criticism, enjoy meeting new people and, above all, working with young people. Of course, knowledge of the UN’s work and of youth work is an advantage.

How do you see your new role as Youth Delegate since taking up your post?

Sabrina Reindl: I mainly see myself as a representative of young people in Germany. Bearing in mind the concept of inclusion, I feel it’s important to address the broadest possible spectrum of young people. It’s important to always remember that you’re not representing your own interests in the UN, but those of the 50% of the world’s population which is made up of young people.

Patrick Rohde: My personal goal is not to develop a high profile as Youth Delegate. Naturally, we also have our own goals and expectations, but my main aim is to do the job for which we were selected, namely to act as the mouthpiece of young people in Germany. First of all, that means that we want to visit a broad range of young people from all sections of the community during our tour of Germany. It’s our job to take their ideas, needs and wishes to the General Assembly in New York and to put them forward.

Do you already have a vague idea of which issue you want to champion at the UN General Assembly as Germany’s Youth Delegates? Your predecessors Heidrun Fritze and Andreas Deutinger highlighted young Germans’ desire for participation and their interest in migration, intercultural understanding and sustainability.

Sabrina Reindl: Basically, the issues we have proposed are based, on the one hand, on the resolutions which are likely to be adopted this year, for example the resolution on children’s rights or the resolution on disabled people. On the other hand, we’re looking at issues which are topical at present and which young people believe are relevant to them, for instance migration and integration or climate change and sustainability (Rio+20). Youth participation will also remain one of our priorities. Irrespective of that, we also want to give young people an opportunity to suggest issues to us. After all, they are the main actors here.

Patrick Rohde: For Heidi and Andreas, the refugee issue gained a completely new relevance due to the Arab revolution and we, too, have to wait and see which issues will be relevant to the lives of young people in Germany in 2012. The events of Rio+20 will certainly have an impact on our work. We’re also thinking of spotlighting equal opportunities and youth unemployment during our tour of Germany.

Last updated 08.03.2012

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