TQ-Afghanistan Initiative: week three focuses on ‘hanging out’ and MUN friendships

Hassan Akoum is a founding member of the THIMUN Qatar-Afghanistan Initiative. A student at Qatar International School, he summarises week three of the initiative.

Hassanthimun 2014

‘’Friends are the family you choose’’- Jess C Scott. That could basically sum up the theme and topic of the third THIMUN QLC Afghanistan Initiative meeting.  MUN is not only about being serious, debating and research; it’s more than that. For the past three years in which I’ve done MUN; I’ve made countless friends who I am still in touch with today and so have the rest of the pioneers in this project. Today, we were able to transfer our social MUN experience to the OMUN students in Afghanistan who shall attend THIMUN Qatar 2015 in February as the students find it difficult to have fun with their friends in Afghanistan due to the safety situation.

Binil Jacob, an Assistant Director at OMUN, started off by asking the Afghanistan-based students  ‘’How do you hangout?’’. The students answered by explaining that they are only able to hang out at certain places at certain times in fear of terrorist attacks and suicide bombers, and that they consider their houses to be the safest place as they would be resistant to such attacks. Unlike here in Qatar and many countries around the world, these students do not have the privilege to go to high quality malls or shopping streets to ‘’chill out’’; they have to comply with the harsh reality that they could be attacked at any moment by terrorists or sleeper cells.

We were then asked a very interesting and good question, which was ‘’ How do you make or cope with friends with different cultures’’.  Personally, I was shocked when I first heard the question but then it was obvious to realize that these students are not as lucky as we are as they do not have the pleasure and privilege to be part of international schools where they are exposed to different cultures and nationalities. The answers were diverse yet all along the same concept. Ola Al Tai – from QIS- stated that by making friends regardless of their culture, you get to relate to their culture and situation easily and therefore develop a friendship that could last for a long time. Safiya Jan from Dukhan English School, also mentioned this later on.

After explaining friendships in general, we moved on to linking it to MUN . ‘’The enemies you make in debate are the closest friends you’re going to have in the future’’ was the quote I started off with,  as throughout my MUN career, everyone who opposed me and spoke against my resolution and caused a fierce debate ended up becoming a very good friend of mine. I proved it by referring to my experience in DCMUN 2013 and how Ola Al Tai and I became very good friends. During DCMUN 2013, I was a main submitter on the topic of the economic empowerment of ethnic and social minorities. As the debate was halfway over no one criticized my resolution and I received wonderful compliments on it until Ola decided to go up and – for some reason- criticize my resolution for its structure and indirect content. Her speech influenced the whole committee and everyone started to think differently about my resolution in a negative way. I then went up and defended all my points abolishing every piece of criticism Ola made and in the end, my resolution passed with a vast majority . Yet in spite of all this, Ola and I became very close friends!

The Afghanistan students were thrilled by our experiences & answers and we could infer that they are already excited to attend THIMUN Qatar in February 2015. Personally, I believe that today’s session was majorly vital as going to an MUN conference without socializing is practically pointless and removes some of the importance of MUN itself. Friends can be crucial ,as they can at any point help us in working out our problems regardless of what it is – As Mesaieed International School student Gifty Tawiah explained. In the end without learning the true meaning of friendship, one hasn’t really learned anything, as the Great Muhammad Ali once said.