The dust had barely settled on the THIMUN Qatar Conference of 2015 when a student from Qatar Academy’s QA Action club sat down at my desk and asked me the following: “Can we do for our school in Eravur what we did for the Afghan students? To get them prepared for MUN and bring them to Doha?” And with those simple words, the QA Action Club’s focus made a dramatic shift, away from fundraising that had marked five year’s worth of effort and led to the building of a purpose-built facility, providing ICT and English classes to the student of Eravur.
This new phase of community involvement in this city in eastern Sri Lanka was part of the focus of this year’s trip to Eravur, the QA Action team’s annual week long service trip. They left behind the foundation for a strong collaborative program. In some respects it will model the THIMUN Qatar-Afghanistan Initiative, prepping students online via Google Docs, Skype and ultimately Blackboard Collaborate for full online debating. Unique to this initiative is Qatar Academy’s longstanding commitment to EEDI, the Eravur Education Development Institute, and the connections it already holds within the community. It was also decided to invite Eastern International College to participate in this project, thereby uniting students from three cities, Doha, Eravur and Batticoloa, Sri Lanka, in the quest to prepare for the THIMUN Qatar conference.
Taking advantage of their time in Eravur, QA students ran two workshops, one at EEDI and the other at EIC, using Best Delegate’s popular Fruits and Vegetable’s activity. This helped students gauge confidence and English levels, as well as provide a brief introduction into the Model UN process. EIC students were briefly introduced to the OMUN platform after a school wide assembly inaugurating the OMUN Sri Lanka program.
At the leadership level, EEDI and EIC affirmed their desire and commitment to this collaborative program. Both schools are equipped with excellent computer facilities, which will allow participants to connect online and receive training and coaching from their mentors based in Doha.
As Qatar Academy moves its investment away from buildings and into student collaborative projects, this diverse and pioneering group of students from the Eastern Province will engage and connect with their peers from around the world. While the students have a lot to learn in their journey to become new delegates, even more exciting will be the glimpse into the lives of Sri Lankan students that the rest of the world will have. Twenty first century collaborative engagement is a two way street, and the road to THIMUN Qatar will be one fill with many wonderful surprises. The magic of THIMUN Qatar is sure to continue at the 2016 conference!