Exposé: the people behind UN Youth

I’m sure many of you have been to our events, so you have a good understanding of the Model UN and what we do as an organisation.  You may also be interested in is what it is like being an officeholder of UN Youth – being part of the team that organises 20+ regional events and 4 national events across the country, and 2 international study tours every year.  Did I mention we’re all volunteers and full time university students?

So I asked Matt Dobbs if he could write something about his personal experiences as  a part of the UN Youth family. This is his story, his saga, his legacy:

Becoming an office-holder is one of the most unexpected and happen-to-be-there moments you might ever experience. Long story short: I heard about UN Youth in my 7th form, went to NZ Model UN, loved it, scored a T-shirt and a sweet lanyard, heard about some ‘UN Youth Auckland Annual General Meeting’, met some cool kids, said I was keen to give back, people said my name, I raised my hand, I said “Hey”, they said “Welcome to the Auckland Regional Council.” I had to laugh: there really IS hope for all of us.

I could tell you about how I dedicated years of my high-school into ripping up a storm in the Model UN scene, but I didn’t. I could tell you about how I invested hours of my angsty teenage-hood into prepping speeches and lobbying for the invincible nation of Benin, but I didn’t. I could tell you about how I charmingly winked at our National President, Lizzie Chan, treated the soon-to-be Auckland President, Emily Chai, just as a gentleman should, or exchanged manly bravados and witty puns with Anton Smith, but I didn’t. (Anton was in Christchurch, anyway.) I truly appreciated all that UN Youth offered to me, all the doors that opened up and the people I met. I was no workaholic over-achiever; I just wanted to give back and say “Thank you.”

Becoming an office-holder was, however, an excellent kick-start to this plan.

So I write to you in my second year-long term as an office-holder. What does being an office-holder mean to me? You can take it one of two ways. The first is that we’re power-hungry nut-cases equipped with a blood-thirsty vengeance against all those who dare question the airs and graces of Ban Ki-Moon. The second is that it’s all about giving back; no pay-cheques or palaces, but the chance to help inspire young New Zealanders as global citizens, educate about diversity, and develop the leaders of tomorrow.

Becoming an office-holder has given me real, practical, first-hand experience in working in an organisation.  Although I’m based in Auckland, I get to work with folks from all over Wellington, Canterbury and Otago. And people really, really dig that first-hand experience. It’s like an internship but without all the dull drags and mind-numbing monotony and fights with the photocopier, but GENUINELY COOL PEEPS from across NZ! It feels like we’re all one unit, each one of us working toward that big, ‘blue-sky’ picture.

We also have a legit office in Wellington, too, which is pretty sick!

Are there downsides? Some people ask me “Golly, Matty, you must get awfully busy with all your UN things!” and I say “NAY! It’s worth it! Just LOOK at my email signature! Do you have an email signature? Do you even have the ‘Gotham Narrow’ font? Check your Word; I don’t think so.”

Aside from deflecting the question, the work is worth it. There is work to be done and a workload to be managed, but there are office-holders now and office-holders in the past who have all managed it before, and each one of us is there to help out one another. The UN Youth office-holders offer a HUGE network of support and are more than willing to help each other out. The friendships made through UN Youth are lasting and legit, and working together with my mates has been richly a rewarding experience.

On an equally more legit note, the complimentary email signature carries SUCH street-cred, both in and around the office. Check this out: The other night, I was on the phones at Youthline when one of the other counsellors (my supervisor, that night) came up to me, we chatted away, and she said “Hey I saw your email signature, with all your UN stuff on it. So, I was wondering, what do you do for the UN? Are you, like, a boss, or something?”

And when you’re a UN Youth office-holder, you can look people straight in the eye and rightly reply: “Yes, I am a boss.”

Be an office-holder. Give it a chance. Give yourself the chance. You will never know how much you can shape the future of UN Youth and the youth of this nation until you try it out.


Best Wishes,

MATT DOBBS | Auckland Vice-President for High-Schools
M: +64 21 108 1714
E: [email protected]

Level 2, 55 Cuba St, PO Box 24494
Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand  


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