UNESCO forum inspires CPIT student

News News & events

22 Dec 2011


Kunal and his team present their action plan.

CPIT hospitality student Kunal Kohli is positive about the future of Canterbury after attending the ‘Looking Beyond Disaster’ UNESCO youth forum in Christchurch last week, where young people developed action plans for disaster resilience.

Those who attended the forum spent the first day sharing their disaster experiences, something which young Cantabrians have become familiar with. It was an eye opening exercise for Kunal who wants to encourage more CPIT students to share their experiences too.

“Everyone at the forum had dealt with disaster and they had all taken away knowledge from their experiences. It was interesting to hear other people’s views and ways of dealing with it and I would encourage other students to share their views with those around them,” he said.

Attendees then took to the community to help out residents who were still dealing with earthquake related issues. Kunal’s group assisted residents to clear rubble and mess from their yard.

A big part of the forum was learning how to deal with feelings after a disaster occurs and attendees had the opportunity to try dance and art therapy. They portrayed their experiences on white cloth which was then sewn together.

“It was interesting to try some different therapy ideas,” Kunal said.

The forum then broke into groups to formulate community action plans for dealing with disaster. The plans centred on preparing for the future and being able to get through disasters when they occur with a focus on sustainability, accessibility and identity.

Kunal was involved with an action plan to create fair trade opportunities for communities overseas who had been hit by disaster as well as an action plan a little closer to home; bringing gifts to poor families in Christchurch who had been disadvantaged by the earthquake.

The groups then had the chance to present their plans to important members of the community.

“Creating action plans gave me motivation. I felt like I could really help and it was great to see people taking notice of our ideas,” Kunal said.

He hopes to see more CPIT students becoming involved in supporting the community through the institutions’ projects and other opportunities.

“Anyone can help out others. Your background doesn’t matter and seeing what other people have done at UNESCO has been very inspiring,” he said.

CPIT supports many community projects. Students were part of the Student Volunteer Army post-earthquake and CPIT student nurses received recognition for their help in residential care facilities. The institution is also involved in several Canterbury recovery initiatives including the Art Box project to revitalise arts in the city.

Kunal enjoyed the opportunity to meet people from around the Pacific and share ideas. He is hoping to attend future UNESCO events and help communities around the world.