Welwyn Garden City school visits UN headquarters in New York

STUDENTS from Times Territory got a taste of what life might be like as a world leader, during a school trip to America.

More than 30 sixth-formers from Monk’s Walk School, in Knightsfield, WGC, visited the United Nations headquarters in New York City, to discuss the limits of free speech with other schools from the UK and France.

The discussion, entitled “Is there a limit to free speech?” took place in one of the UN debating chambers, and gave students a chance to air their views in front of TV cameras and experience the atmosphere of a real international debate.

One of the teenagers who got the chance to address the chamber was Monk’s Walk student Abu Salim, who argued that complete freedom of speech can be a dangerous thing – as the privilage is open to abuse.

“I learned a lot from the experience and came away feeling that my voice had been heard and that I had had the opportunity to contemplate other viewpoints,” said Abu.

“To have actually sat in the seats of international statesmen was inspirational.”


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Earlier in the day, students heard a series of presentations from UN speakers on Afghanistan and Iraq, to provide them with a better understanding of the current situation in the two war-torn countries, and the role the UN plays there.

They were then given a tour of the building, including the Security Council Chamber – the UN’s famed “emergency room”, where the Security Council meets when international peace is threatened.

Monk’s Walk’s deputy headteacher Noel Kelly said: “This was a wonderful opportunity to experience the atmosphere of an international debate, and the students rose to the challenge impressively, arguing their points articulately against opposing views.”