Middle East ambassador

October 24, 2014 by Michelle Favero
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Sydney’s Emanuel School’s Alia Huberman has been selected as one of 10 students nationally to represent Australia as a Middle East Youth Ambassador.

Alia Huberman

Alia Huberman

Alia is the only Jewish student in the delegation that includes young adults from various cultures and countries including Australians of Iraqui, Bangaladeshi, Spanish and American descent.

The program, run by UN Youth, will see the ten Ambassadors visit Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Israel in January 2015. The theme of the tour is Walking the Path to Peace and the students will explore the historical and contemporary challenges the region has been faced with, and the responses to these from different levels. They will meet with UN bodies, international NGOs, Australian and foreign government projects, and community organisations who are all working to build peace and understanding in the Middle East.

The selection process was a rigorous one and Alia successfully completed two written and a face-to-face interview before being given the news of her success. In her written interview earlier this year, Alia was asked why she wanted to represent Australia as a Middle East Youth Ambassador: “All international relations issues interest me, but the Middle East is my home – I was born in Australia but spent a few months out of most of my primary school years living in Israel and attending school there.

I feel connected to the land, to the region; the passion, the fire in everyone’s gut, that dusty desert dauntlessness that defines the area for me is also an inextricable part of my identity. And with that comes the conflict. My family in Israel is currently being bombed in their homes; the hopelessness in their voices about any sort of peaceful resolution is heartbreaking to me. If this trip helps me understand both sides, helps me see a future where bombings are a mere memory – well, there’s nothing I’d like more.”

The trip will give Alia the opportunity to debate contemporary ideas and, in particular, explore new ways of seeing the world and the conflict in the Middle East. She confirmed this in her application: “I have a deep cultural understanding of Israel and the region’s history. I think I also have the characteristically Israeli desire/compulsion to debate and discuss, which I’ve been learning to temper with value and compassion for others.”

The trip will culminate in a three to four day volunteering immersion with a community organisation in Jerusalem which works to bring together members of the community from different walks of life and fosters peace on a grassroots level.

Alia sees the tour as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share views and opinions and to help build a lasting bridge between communities: “I see this trip as an incredible opportunity for young people like me to start the process of bridging gaps that are decades and generations wide. Understanding, co-operation and connection on a grassroots level are necessary to change the nature of conflict in the Middle East from the tribal ‘us vs. them’ to united, enlightened, peace-loving people opposed to radicalism in all its forms.

The introductory Arabic course and the opportunity to interact with Arab-Israeli students who form part of this trip will allow me to start building some of that connection. I hope that our little group of teenagers with such acutely different perspectives on the matter will be able to bring that spirit of tolerance back to our own communities.”

Anne Hastings, Principal of Emanuel School said: “We are so proud of Alia’s appointment as a Middle East Youth Ambassador. To be selected from such a strong national field is testament to Alia’s maturity, confidence in presenting her point of view and desire to open her mind to new opportunities. We look forward to hearing of her experiences and adventures on her return

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