KNOWING when to speak and when to stay silent were equally important for the Blacktown Boys High School students who competed at the national Rotary Model United Nations.
Sarthak Garg and Chaopang Ma, in year 11, and Yasin Rahman, in year 10, attended the two-day competition last weekend at Old Parliament House in Canberra.
They negotiated policy as South Korea during five debates, then took part in a formal dinner and a tour of the Australian National University and Government House.
"We chose South Korea because it has a good amount of influence in the Asian community and it also has really good ties with the western community like Australia and America," Chaopang said.
"It had a wide variety of topics that we could actually speak on, and topics that we could stay silent on.
"On things like the Israel and Palestine conflict and the territorial integrity of Ukraine we were pretty supportive of certain countries over others."
The group pitted their diplomacy skills against those of 24 other schools on five topics from a list of 10 they were given to prepare for.
Sarthak said Palestine, Syria and the dispute between China and Vietnam over China's oil drilling activities in the South China Sea waters claimed by both countries, were on the group's wish list before the competition.
"Even though the UN doesn't have any legal power in any of the countries it still provides a platform for them to talk peacefully, even during conflict, and resolve issues as a whole world," he said.
"It allows a greater range of opinions to be heard."
The team's transport and accommodation was covered by the Rotary Club of Blacktown City.
Its delegates wore traditional Korean dress borrowed from the Korean Society of Sydney.
It was the first time a Blacktown school made it to the national stage of the competition.