Alia ElKattan is the Executive Administrative Officer for OMUN in Egypt, Secretary General of the OMUN Arabic program, and an important member of OMUN’s student leadership team. She recently travelled to Sao Paulo to accept a Youth Award on behalf of THIMUN Online Model United Nations.
On June 15th, 2015, I found myself in the beautiful Sao Paulo, ready to represent Online Model United Nations at the World Summit Youth Awards’ Winners’ Festival. (WSYA awards youth under 30 who are creating positive change and working to achieve the Millennium Development Goals through ICT.) Over a year earlier, Zohaib Ahmed had posted on the O-MUN Leadership Team’s Facebook Group suggesting that we apply for the award. As O-MUN’s platform is the Internet, several people agreed that it would be a great idea, and I volunteered to help with the application, with no idea what that would mean a year later. While we were working on the application, I found out that the winners get to present their project at the WSYA festival in Brazil! It seemed like such a great opportunity, but I decided not to get my hopes up because well, it was a bit too farfetched. Months later, we received a message from Ms. Lisa Martin, O-MUN founder and THIMUN director, that said “WE WON!!!!” It was surreal, and I felt unbelievably proud and happy. The work and dedication that Ms. Lisa Martin and many students from all around the world have been putting into O-MUN was finally going to be awarded!
Simply put, attending WSYA was the best experience of my life. Unfortunately, Zohaib could not make it, as he was at an internship in Shanghai at the time, a great opportunity that I am sure Zohaib totally deserved. The three days of the festival included the Winners’ presentations, inspiring and accomplished speakers, beneficial workshops, many “fruitful” discussions, and lots of friendships being made. As the youngest attendee, I came out with lots of new knowledge, ideas, inspiration, and motivation. (Also, the best birthday celebration ever!)
The greatest part of the World Summit Youth Awards had been the people: a diverse group of inspiring change makers and social entrepreneurs from literally all around the world, each with a valuable experience to share. Whether it was the winners, the jury, or the organizers, every attendee of the event whom I met added a lot to the experience. Of course, I cannot fail to mention my dear mother who accompanied me to Sao Paulo as the best travel partner and friend I could wish for.
Many people were not familiar with MUN, online or offline. Attending the festival gave me the chance to share with a great audience what O-MUN is and how it has been benefitting us in so many ways. Representing an organization I truly admire and am proud to be a part of in Brazil was a great honour, and attending the festival was an unforgettable experience. For that, I would like to thank the entire O-MUN community, because the dedication of each delegate is what got us the award. Of course, I must thank Ms. Lisa Martin for her continuous dedication and support (and for founding O-MUN, obviously), and the person who introduced me to the MUN world and supported me along the way, Hayah’s MUN Director Mr. Karim ElDib. Finally, to the organizers of the festival and all the great people and friends that I met in Sao Paulo at WSYA, thanks for the great memories, and I hope you keep changing the world!