This article is brought to us by Madison Swanson, a student at the John Burroughs School in St Louis, Missouri. Inspired by her trip to THIMUN Qatar 2015, and determined to help emerging MUN programs like the one in Kabul, Afghanistan, Madison helped to spearhead PiMUN, a school organization to refurbish laptops and to donate them to individuals and programs lacking IT resources. She will be speaking about PiMUN at the upcoming Qatar Leadership Conference.
As our world becomes ever increasingly global, society is adapting to fit the new international landscape we live in. Technology plays a huge role in linking the world together, and from it we have new opportunities that didn’t exist twenty years ago. One of the tools that has helped so many of us get connected to the global community, and utilizes technology to do it, is Model UN. MUN helps kids learn about what is going on in the world and work towards attainable solutions for the problems that are demanding attention. It also teaches these kids valuable life lessons on leadership, productivity and teamwork. Through MUN, we are learning how to be the leaders that the world will soon need.
THIMUN is able to do all this with the unique addition of global partnership. At THIMUN, many of the delegates are coming from different countries around the world, and it helps us expand our global view. I, for example, traveled from St. Louis, Missouri in the United States all the way to Doha for THIMUN Qatar 2015. While there, I met students from Doha, of course, but also the U.A.E., Australia, England, and many more countries and regions of the world. We got to spend a lot of time with the students of the Afghanistan Initiative, three boys and two girls who traveled to THIMUN Qatar from Kabul, Afghanistan. They were among the first students from Afghanistan to participate in MUN, and the delegation from my school was lucky enough to spend a day with them in Doha before the conference began. We started at the Islamic art museum with stiff interactions because we were unsure what to say to each other, being that there was half a world’s difference between us. However, the night ended with us all on the rooftop of a Dhow boat cruising through the Arabian Gulf, enjoying each others company, sharing a mix of our favorite music. There may have even been some dancing! The THIMUN experience helped us break down our borders and expand our horizons. We were able to take off the blinders and realize that, no matter where you grew up, we’re all so similar. THIMUN helped us build bonds that will not easily break.
A few weeks removed from the trip, I struck up a correspondence with one of the Afghani boys, Rahmat. After THIMUN, he returned home to Kabul and started Afghanistan’s first model UN club. His club attracted twenty two students, but, unfortunately, only one computer. Rahmat was attempting to teach twenty two kids MUN and have them research, formulate, and type resolutions on one single laptop. I was amazed, and knew that there had to be something I could do. So, I sat down with my MUN director, Mr. Andrew Newman, and we created Plug into Model UN, or PiMUN. PiMUN’s goal is to collect unused computers four years old or less, wipe their memories, and distribute them to students in developing countries across the globe so they, too, can have access to the lessons taught by MUN and the global network of students it attaches them to. We are collecting computers from individuals, schools, and businesses, and have already accumulated around ten since our start last April. Our next step is to bring PiMUN to the global arena so that we can really begin helping students.
What PiMUN needs is simple: it needs driven students who want to put in a little work for a great cause. If PiMUN clubs are augmented to schools all around the world that collect even just a few laptops a year, the output would be tremendous. We could give laptops to hundreds of students and introduce them to MUN, which has the potential to change lives. It’s as simple as getting a few students involved, getting the word out, and stirring up donations in your school and community. Then, you can watch as you change lives.