By Alya Al-Ammari
At the 2016 Qatar Leadership Conference, my fourth QLC experience, I had the pleasure of presenting a workshop on how to start a sustainable charity, as well as participating in some gripping seminars on topics such as women’s empowerment, growth in post-conflict areas, and youth-led initiatives. However, I did not attend with my school. I arrived alone under the generous banner of O-MUN Bahrain for the second year in a row. My only grievance was that my peers, all young and capable students, were missing out on an eye-opening and life-changing experience. I knew this was the case because I lived that experience every fall for the last four years. Once again, the familiar feeling of excitement and restlessness smoldered in my stomach as I ironed my best MUN outfits and nervously applied my makeup on the morning of October 20th 2016. I was well aware that the bus ride to the Qatar National Convention Centre from the Movenpick that day was the interlude between banality and inspiration. By no exaggeration, I knew that the sight of the near-iconic spider peeping over the edge of the escalators from the ground floor meant the beginning of another weekend of stimulus and educated, passionate dialogue. So here are my biggest takeaways from the conference throughout the years, to tell you why your own school needs to be at QLC 2017.
The Qatar Leadership Conference provides people from all walks of life an opportunity for quantitative growth. I arrived at QLC this year as a presenter, a youth leader, a student, and an excited member of Arab society. The conference brought out the best in these four identities. As a presenter, I was given a platform to express my ideas and share with like-minded and ambitious people my experiences in beginning a charity and working towards the goal of sustainability and humanity. I had the chance to open a dialogue between me and Qatari teenagers, a religious scholar, a US Peace Corps representative, and teachers from around the world, in order to elevate the potential of our ideas and make plans to deliver on them. As a youth leader, I was exposed to students who were younger than me, but had similar aspirations as I did at that age, and give them advice on how to approach seemingly unrealistic goals, all the while getting insight on the experiences of other ambitious, driven youth from as far as Taiwan and Malaysia. As a student, I learned from accomplished and engaging presenters a myriad of issues that have global importance while still relating to my life. As a member of Arab society, I was immensely and indescribably proud. However, another student at your own school may tailor their experience at QLC, so they are also learning in the same hands-on way that I did, but about how to flawlessly chair your first council, react in a crisis situation, or lead a Model United Nations conference with an emphasis on collaboration and shared growth. A teacher chaperoning this student is able to attend a Best Delegate Directors’ Workshop on MUN knowledge, debating skills, and organisation. I challenge any participant of the Qatar Leadership Conference to tell me one experience that they benefit from.
As a fourteen-year-old, coming to this conference ignited a sense of initiative in me that has not wavered since then. I believe that this is due to my exposure to the powerful, driven, young people that this conference celebrates. I had access to interesting and relevant presenters that promoted ambition and hard work in a way that was integral to my school life later on. These positive role models were relatable in a way that celebrities aren’t, where they have started in the same place as you, have grown up and made a name for themselves. I keep people like Salam Kaedan, Olaoluwa Abagun, Oliver Percovich, Khalid Al Ameri, and Ibrahim Kazzaz in mind when I feel overwhelmed and unmotivated by schoolwork. The examples that QLC presenters offer young students are exceptional and inspiring. They have personally touched my life in a way that cannot be replicated in a classroom, but is so integral to that particular environment. To be able to listen, meet, and converse with determined young people has been an invaluable contribution to my attitude towards school and work.
Walking into the Qatar Leadership Conference year after year only to be more excited, engaged, and roused every time is a strange experience. Although I am already a very diligent person, the level of motivation I feel after leaving these conferences surprises me. I return to school wishing that I had my friends with me learning about global conflicts and solutions, and my teachers to gush to about keynote speakers and presenters. The fuel the QLC can give its participants is incredibly rewarding and should be shared among peers and educators. We in the Gulf are lucky to have this conference pop up on our doorstep every year and schools have the opportunity to take full advantage of the resources it presents. From one seasoned QLC participant- and now presenter- to the next generation: urge your school to join, the gravity of the lessons you learn and the significance of its purpose will surprise you, then thrill you.