Fatima EL- Mahdi: What is MSMUN?

Head of reporting Dana Ziani had the pleasure of interviewing Fatima EL-Mehdi Head of THIMUN Qatar to speak about THIMUN Qatar in particular MSMUN. The interview was done as part of a segment aired on Radio LYNX, Qatar-Finland international school’s student radio. 

Watch the full interview here

Dana: So, miss Fatima to begin could you please give us some insight into this year’s conference? what makes it different and what would be the theme this year? 

Fatima: Hi Dana, thank you so much for having me on your radio show, and hello to Qatar-Finland school, hope you are all doing OK! Middle school model UN is just completely unique, we do not have anything like this in the entire region it is the only middle school conference in the entire MENA region that specifically dedicated to middle school and we love that, so we theme it around something called the sustainable development goals which are 17 global goals that every country in the world signed on to promise to achieve by 2030. 

 Now I do not know if you have noticed but the world’s kind of in a little bit of a mess these days… did you notice something called a panoramic happening? Yes, so there have been some questions as to how those promises can be kept and whose responsibility it is to keep them, and the middle school model UN conference is kind of exploring where we have gone wrong as a planet and what we can do to make it better. 

 Dana: So, you spoke of the SDGs could you please tell us more about the SDG‘s that we will be tackling this year? 

 Fatima: So, we are tackling 12 of the 17 SDGs. As a Muslim going into Ramadan next month one of the most interesting ones for me is SDG 20 hunger which is talking about how hunger affects your development really, and how we can protect our food supplies. and of course, SDG 3, good health, and well-being that is an interesting SDG for us cause a lot of it is to do with mental health as well as physical health, which is so important, and how we can protect each other’s mental health. Then there’s SDG 8, decent work, and economic growth. A lot of people, unfortunately, lost their jobs in the last year due to covid. And then SDG 10, reduced inequalities, that is an interesting committee as well because the richer seems to have gotten richer over the last decade and the poor seem to have been dipping and getting even poorer. And then my favorite, the climate action ones! The life below water and life on land SDG’s 14 and 15, talking about protecting our natural environment  

Dana: Yes, and that is a very important SGD that we should all be focusing on because as we all know, we do not have a planet B. So, following up on that on the next question is how did TQ adapt to the changes that have been caused by COVID-19 and moving everything online. What is different this year? 

 Fatima: So, when we are going online it is a whole different world and I think it is pointless to try and pretend that we are in a real conference, but we are just sitting behind a screen to do it, so we wanted to really maximize and benefit from being online and instead of being sad about it we can celebrate the wonderful things about being online. So, one of the things that we are incorporating this year is a much smoother debate process that does not involve as many speeches.  

Another thing that we are doing is that we are embedding the service activities that happen at the end of the conference in a way that is open to anybody regardless of what committee they are doing. 

Dana: What are those service activities? 

Fatima: So, the service activities that we have this year are a peer mentoring program, so Dana we want to embed the service activities in a way that is accessible to anybody that is joining the conference because if we were in person, you would have to stick to the service activity that connects to your committee your particular SDG, but this year it is open to whoever wants to join up, whoever is the most interested. And that is because we got that flexibility online, so Dana do you know about the Al-Salam schools? 

Dana: Yes! Was it the schools that cater to children who have never attended schools before? 

Fatima: Yes! Here in Qatar! There are four and a half thousand children that have never gone to school here in Qatar who are living in poverty who may only have one meal a day and it is a good day for them when they have two meals a day 

 So, one of the service activities connecting to SDG 4, Quality education, is a peer mentoring program where we connect you to the students in the Al-Salam schools for some peer mentoring. 

Dana: You spoke about all the wonderful opportunities that delegates have once they join MUN however, could you please tell us what kind of benefits do we have as delegates and how does it impact us? 

Fatima: Oh, that is the serious question! So, when you join MUN you end up getting exposure to ideas and a way of thinking and a way of being that is progressive, it is part of the future, not the past. Nobody tells you what to do as an MUN delegate you are the captain of your own ship, you are the leader of your own brigade, you learn how to be persuasive, you learn how to arbitrate and mediate and debate, it is a powerful program that teaches you how to be a learner of the future. 

Dana: yes, I could attest to that I was a delegate myself and I absolutely love the experience! So finally, to conclude this wonderful interview, could you please tell us where do you see THIMUN going, what is next for TQ? Any future plans? 

Fatima: Another excellent question! So THIMUN conferences for the last 53 years have very much focused on debates which is as it should be, it is an academic program where you learn the theory and understand some information about the problems that this world is facing how they are trying to deal with it and what you can do to help what THIMUN Qatar wants to do is embed service within that so as you see from the middle school we have all these service activities that show you how you can contribute to your community.  

There is a sense of disconnection from our communities and that is not healthy for us mentally emotionally or even physically so one of the things that we want to do is to take it from debate to action. You learn the theory behind why things are done the way they are which is super important cause you have to sharpen up your brain, but then we also ask you to put on your wellies get out there and get mucky! Really dig in and make a physical tangible impact. 

Dana: Thank you very much miss Fatima for your time, it was a very insightful interview! This was miss Fatima El– Mahdi head of THIMUN Qatar here on Radio LYNX. Make sure to sign up for the next MSMUN on THIMUN’s website. Thank you for tuning in to this special edition of Radio LYNX. 

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