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Student session on UN stint

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s teachings, M.F. Husain’s painting and South Korean rapper PSY’s Gangnam style — MP Derek O’Brien packed all this and a lot more into his interactive session with school students on his UN experience last month as a parliamentary representative from India.

UN Interface with Derek O’Brien presented by The La Martiniere Schools, Calcutta, at Atmodaya Bhavan in the boys’ school on Wednesday had the MP tell his story through My Apprenticeship at the UN, a collection of 14 slides.

The principal of La Martiniere for Boys, Sunirmal Chakravarthi, set the tone for the session while introducing O’Brien. “If quizzing is popular today, it is because you see the person in front of you,” he said.

O’Brien lived up to the introduction, donning the quizmaster’s hat through the hour-long session. Showing a slide with a painting “from inside the United Nations Permanent Mission of India”, O’Brien asked the students to identify the subject. “The assassination of Gandhi,” came the reply from Rahul Shah of Park English School.

Another slide showed O’Brien speaking and the audience was asked which country the gentleman on his right was from. Namrata Caleb of La Martiniere for Girls guessed it right when she said Indonesia because “he looks Indonesian” but it was teacher Kanchan Churiwala who offered the correct explanation, “Everyone’s seated in alphabetical order and Indonesia is always on India’s right.” Adarsh Anand of La Martiniere for Boys was quick to say “Iceland” when asked about the person to O’Brien’s left in the next slide.

“I am going to try and share with you (my experiences) as a common Indian citizen visiting the UN, so don’t expect some high fundas about what is the policy of the Gaza strip,” O’Brien told the students from La Martiniere for Boys and Girls, Don Bosco, Park Circus, Delhi Public School, New Town, Akshar, Adamas International School, Cambridge International School and St. Thomas’ Girls School.

O’Brien recounted how when he was reading out some figures of the Right to Education Act, he had spoken about “78 million primary schoolchildren”, much to the surprise of the representative from Iceland.

“The lady asked me ‘did you say 78 million primary school children’ and I said yes.” “That’s very interesting because the population of my country is 3 million,” she told the Indian representative.

But the slide that had the children clapping was one of Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general of the United Nations, with PSY.

“The superstar singer had later said: ‘I know I know… till last year he was the most popular South Korean in the universe and from this year I am the most popular South Korean in the universe,’” O’Brien quoted PSY as saying.