The Qatar Leadership Conference 2016 brought together hundreds of motivated students, accomplished leaders, and inspiring speakers. Once again, a large, incredible group of people met at the Qatar National Convention Center to discuss, inspire, brainstorm, and socialize under the famous 30-foot spider. Amid it all, as friendships were developed, ideas were formed, and paths were changed, a team of young people from all over the world were bonding over their #OMUNPride.
One of the most remarkable aspects of O-MUN is the fact that it is run by a very international group of high-school – and some university – students who have mostly never seen each other face to face. After months or years of collaborative work and leadership online, real-life meetups such as the ones at QLC are, expectedly, incredible. In leadership team member Irene’s blog, she said that following meeting the first O-MUN member she saw at QLC, she had “spent the entire morning getting over she shock”, and we can all relate! The real-life meet-ups were definitely one of the favorite aspects of the experience for many of us, including O-MUN delegates and leaders Ishan Upadhyay who commented about how great of an experience it was, and Sandev Ferdinando who said, “It brought a sense of realism to what we do at O-MUN and how strong our bond of friendship is – even though some of us met face to face for the first time at QLC! But site seeing with Kudzai (a great Bollywood dancer too), Robin and Sanskriti and dinner with the rest of the team (Irene, Salam, Ibrahim, Wesley, Reem, Sulaiman, Rahmat and Alia) was just the tip of the iceberg.”
Kudzai, our Director, expressed similar thoughts, as he also spoke of the wonderful atmosphere at QLC saying, “It is similar to a warm bowl of soup on a winter’s evening by the fire place – in one word, welcoming. The caliber of presenters, plenary speakers, and professionalism of the conference can be intimidating at first but once you are there and you’ve met the O-MUN squad for the first time in years you feel right at home.”
The O-MUN team contributed with their experiences to QLC through both attending workshops and giving them. Members of the O-MUN community, including delegates, chairs, and current and previous leaders have given a total of around 15 50-minute workshops at the 3-day conference. While many of our workshops connected back to O-MUN and MUN, the topics ranged in diversity from how MUN saved Ibrahim El Kazzaz’s life, why Eliot Wang thinks media matters, Alya Al-Ammari’s successful Maharat project in Jordan, and Robin De Zeeuw’s perspective on leadership.
While the O-MUN community tries to contribute to QLC, we – as an organization – end up benefitting from it greatly. Speaking of the QLC influence Ishan said, “QLC benefits O-MUN for two reasons – it brings us together as a team and as community members, as well as motivating the team to showcase their creativity and talents. It teaches O-MUN members the value of teaching and the humility of learning, how to listen to each other, and how to laugh with each other at each other. It brings out the true essence of what it means to be youthful and ambitious.” Sandev also identified the powerful impact of QLC saying it “…gives those who’ve worked at O-MUN a platform to tell their own story, whether it was about how O-MUN changed their lives for the better or the power and potential it has to influence us. It provides the quintessential ‘eureka’ moments – unmatched by any other conference – for others in the field of MUN, to connect and work with those who’ve overcome all odds with O-MUN. This in turn, emphasizes QLC’s importance as the melting pot of inspiration and development of student leaders in the region and around the world.”
Even though all of us have been to conferences before, with some having even attended previous QLCs, the QLC 16 experience still came with pleasant surprises. Kudzai commented about the surprising nature of finally meeting the O-MUN team, saying, “The most surprising thing for me was how tall Robin was, how sweet and sincere Irene was, how witty Alia could be, and how insane Wesley is in person (so much deception). In addition to that, Ibrahim was sensational and Salam was funny and crazy as always, not to mention Sanskriti and Sandev – the most hospitable people in Qatar. I could go on and on, but to put it in a nutshell, what surprised me about the experience was just how tangible the sense of community that has been created online over the last few years felt in person, which is a testament to just how amazing O-MUN really is.”
We came to QLC with high expectations, yet the experience surpassed them. The conference was full of inspiration and leadership, with many experienced and inspiring speakers, and going through it with the O-MUN team made it even more memorable. Even though the experience ended and we’re all back in different nations, only communicating through the internet again, the memories made at QLC were ones to last. Whether it’s because of doing an improvised flash-mob (well, an attempt) and singing the O-MUN anthem at QNCC, eating delicious food and laughing at magic tricks at the Souk, the ideas we shared at powerful workshops, or bonding over O-MUN stories, we all came out with a fond experience to look back at, and a community that is now even stronger!
- Alia ElKattan, Assistant Director – Public Affairs