Major-General Bruce Legge Bursary

NSCF (1)

Major-General Bruce Legge Bursary

for the National Student Commonwealth Forum

 By Jillian Zhuge

Victoria Park Collegiate Institute

 The annual Major-General Bruce Legge Bursary was established in 2013 to assist student delegates from the Greater Toronto Area attending the National Student Commonwealth Form.  The inaugural recipients of the Bursary were Jun Hao (Johnathon) Ge of Pierre Trudeau High School and Ruiqing (Jillian) Zhuge of Victoria Park Collegiate Institute (second from the right in picture above).

The people I met, the memories that were made, and the knowledge I gained all made the National Student Commonwealth Forum (May 5-10, 2013) one of the most memorable moment of my life.  I went to Ottawa knowing nothing about the Commonwealth, but a week after, I left knowing about the different Commonwealth countries, reaching consensus, politics, and everything in between.  NSCF consisted of about 100 students from all across Canada, eager to learn and to have fun.  With us, we had the planning team, energetic university students who taught us about the Commonwealth and consensus reaching in a fun and interesting way.  For a week, we left our teenage lives and we dressed up in business attire, walking around Ottawa feeling important and that we can make a change to the country we’re living in.

NSCF is a really interactive way to teach students like myself about Canada and its internal affairs (Senate, House of Commons), as well as external affairs (involvement in the Commonwealth and humanitarianism programs). Our days were packed full with different games, events, meetings. We were constantly moving, but it was never tiring.  We had opportunities to meet MPs, Senators, High Commissions from our represented countries, along with inspirational youths working to make a change to our world. We had a debate in the senate, voicing our opinions on different topics, some legitimate like the voting age, and others more fun, like moose-riding. We had various simulation games, in which the objective of the game was not to win, but so everyone can come together for a common cause.

During our mock Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), we got to represent a country, debate new laws that are beneficial to the majority of the country, make improved amendments, and reach consensus.  Before, I thought CHOGM was just like model UN, but I realized they were on completely opposite ends of the spectrum.  In CHOGM, every single country must agree before anything can happen. In other words, every law passed must be carefully thought out so it would benefit everyone. It started off very civil, but as the day progressed, we realized it was very difficult to agree, and many had to refrain from yelling out or simply leaving the room.  We got to see how difficult it is for real presidents and prime ministers to sit at the bi-annual CHOGM and pass real laws that will actually affect their country.  I gained more respect for our prime minister, as well as senate members and MPs, because their work is very stressful and their decisions make a huge impact on our everyday lives.

Coming out of NSCF, I am motivated to learn more about the Commonwealth, and to teach others what I learned. I encourage every high school student to take this amazing opportunity, and even though it did mean missing a week of school work, it was worth it, and I would go back next year without a second thought.


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