This reflection is brought to us by Fatima Al Madhi, the MUN Director at Mesaieed International School, a member school of the THIMUN Qatar Advisory Board.
When I came to Mesaieed international School for the first time in January 2012, I was told by my then by my then principal Kevin Massey about this student leadership conference called MUN. I ambled through the first year watching Annette, the then MUN director lead the students to THIMUN in 2013 before I took over in September 2013. Her knowledge, charisma and above all patience in answering my endless questions were the steady pillars which our club needed to establish itself. Two years down the line, coming up to Jan 2015, Mesaieed International School Model United Nations club has gone to 7 conferences and has grown from 14 members to 104, and we are in the run up to hosting our first MISMUN one day training conference!
After the very first day of the very first conference we attended I saw how my students’ confidence was shaken by the overwhelming experience of standing up in the company of strangers and then, something magical happened. I saw their harsh breathing and wild panicked eyes soften to laughter as they made friends, fire up in anger as they fought THAT block’s assassination attempts over their draft resolutions, and light up with joy as they realized that they can find so much in common with delegates from schools as far afield as Nigeria and Singapore and the realization that they could work together to create something good.
This transformation in my students lit a fire under my particular gluteus maximus and inspired me to keep pushing MISMUN further. It was so humbling and inspiring to me to see how my students took to the complex language and procedure in MUN, how they absorbed it into themselves, assimilated it and poured forth actual sensible ideas about how to improve the lot of others. To see them take such a passionate interest in the procedures and regulations governing the administration and budgetary of global financial transactions tax at 15 years old moves me to optimism for our future. I couldn’t imagine the same inspiration on the same topic if I had taught it in my maths class! For me the main difference between classrooms and MUN is self-direction, and to quote JK Rowling, ‘it is the difference between being dragged into the arena to face a battle to the death and walking into the arena with your head held high. Some people perhaps would say that there was little to choose between the the ways, but..I know…with a rush of fierce pride…that there was all the difference in the world’.