(Devine Kalekyezi and Sarah Dhanraj)
With the curtains down on the 6th Annual Youth Parliament, participants are reminiscing on the opportunity afforded them to be apart of this year’s initiative, indicating that it has helped shaped them for the future.
15-year-old Devine Kalekyezi, who served as the Prime Minister in the junior category, explained that he was nervous at first, but his colleagues and the mentors helped him to perform. “At first of course I was a bit nervous…but I had great teammates…they supported me, especially the more experienced ones,” Kalekyezi said.
The Queens’ College student noted that although Youth Parliament is a form of a simulation of an actual parliament session, he stands firm in the positions he took as Prime Minister, believing that traditional schools should be opened sooner rather than later. “I believe that safely reopening traditional schools will aid in the equal and fair distribution of education in our great nation Guyana,” Kalekyezi explained.
17-year-old Leader of the Opposition Sarah Dhanraj described her experience as an “interesting” one.
Dhanraj said that she believes that Youth Parliament is an extremely important experience, and one that should not be taken lightly. “Youth Parliament…provides a platform where you are able to voice the opinions of not only the youth of your country, but also those in the [rest of] the Caribbean,” Dhanraj noted.
Like Kalekyezi, the former Bishops’ High student expressed her strong belief in the stance she took in Parliament, particularly referring to the Opposition’s stance on the reopening of traditional schools. “As of now, [we] are still concerned that due to COVID-19, we should not put our health at risk and therefore we should prioritize what’s most important to us,” she said.
Both Kalekyezi and Dhanraj were named Best Speakers for the junior category of debates.
Meanwhile, for the senior category, Shadow Minister of Health Bibi Yassin expressed her heartfelt gratitude for the opportunity to be apart of the sittings, noting that it is a one in a lifetime opportunity. “It is something that every youth would definitely want to experience at least once in their lifetime…I am truly grateful and very appreciative of the fact that I was able to sit at [this year’s] youth parliament,” she said.
Speaking on her selection as one of the best speakers of the senior category, Yassin explained that she spent an extended amount of time working on her craft and preparing for her big day. Yassin said that because of this, coupled with a few other essential moves, she was able to come out as one of the best speakers of the debates.
“Preparing for my presentation was something I worked very hard on…I remember being in the shower and rehearsing my speech…because you want to come here and put over a presentation where you aren’t reading from a book [and] for your thoughts to flow and put over all your points,” she detailed.
Keron Williams, who is now experiencing the senior category for the first time, highlighted that this particular experience has been different, yet still extremely enlightening. “This batch is really good in terms of executing and the way they write their speeches…there are very intelligent people here. This experience [was] even better than the ones I’ve had before,” Williams told the Big Smith News Watch.
When asked what he had to do to ensure he properly presented his speech, Williams said that extreme preparation and research must first be done before one can make a proper presentation. “What you need for a good speech is good research. You have to know how to research, interpret your topic properly and put together a good speech,” he explained.
The Port Kaituma resident encouraged all young people to jump at all opportunities and to maximize them as much as possible. “When I was in school…I would not want to go [into public speaking] because I was so afraid of the public saying ‘you’re not good enough’…but there was this one competition where I made use of the opportunity, [and] I kept going and kept going and I ended up at youth parliament. So whatever opportunity you get, make use of it,” he said.