BAYAN LEPAS: Fourteen-year-old R. Prevena, who won the Best Speaker and Best Position Paper Awards at the 2017 International Model United Nations Conference in the United States recently, is still in disbelief that she had bagged the awards despite being one of the youngest delegates there.
Prevena said that the other delegates looked well-prepared, with some of them having previous experience in joining the conference.
She admitted that she was not too focused on winning it.
"I was very nervous. I was there because I knew this would be a great exposure by being the first ever student from Malaysia to join the conference.
"But when my name was announced, I was at loss for words. It was the best feeling ever!" said the teen, who was welcomed by her classmates and teachers from Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Sultan Badlishah on arrival at the Penang International Airport, here today.
Her classmates and English teacher Kamila Mahali were seen holding up a banner to welcome her home. Also present was Prevena’s mother, S. Jaya Devi.
“She has made the country and our school proud. She is a bright student and she really deserves recognition,” said Kamila.
Prevena presented two topics -- restriction of chemical weapons and effect of climate change on crops -- during the three-week conference, which saw the attendance of 96 delegates from all around the world.
She received the invitation to join the conference based on her achievement at the 2017 Worldwide United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Centre for Peach Youth Multimedia Competition, where she had submitted a video titled "The Souped Up Land - The SMART Refugees Camp", her innovative idea to overcome the refugees crisis in the country.
She won second place for the video, and it drew the attention of the recent conference's organisers.
Prevena's father, R. Ramakrishnan, 50, said his daughter spent at least three to four hours on reading books at home daily.
"She loves books and that is where she gets her knowledge on current issues apart from the learning process at school.
"In a day, she spends about one hour maximum watching television and the rest on her studies," said the proud father.
He said that she was involved in various innovation competitions ever since she was 11, while studying at Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan (Tamil) Kulim.
Prevena has expressed an interest in becoming a scientist when she grows up.
"She has not made up her mind yet on which specific field she wants to specialise in, but she definitely wants to be a scientist," he added.
The conference was held by the International Model United Nations Association United States, a not-for-profit organisation under the UN.
They are dedicated to promoting global issues on education through simulation and hosts premier education-based conferences in numerous cities throughout the world.