SDG5 – Thoughts from DPGA Seo-Hee Hong

My name is Seo-Hee Hong, and I am honoured to serve as the Deputy President of the General Assembly of THIMUN Qatar 2018. I was born in South Korea but I have been living in Qatar for the past 14 years. Model United Nations has been a major element in my growth and progress as an individual. At first, it seemed too perplexing and too ambitious of a task complete; however, after countless conferences and countless times standing in front of the podium with shaking hands, MUN has found itself as a necessary role in my life. One day, as I was researching an issue for a Model United Nations conference, I came across an article that evoked a revelation regarding the injustice in our world – I had realised that my privileged life was not universal. This epiphany regarding our unequal society has led me to develop my strong passion and a vision for a better world – one that would benefit everyone.

SDG 5 holds a vision very much similar to mine – to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. As a female myself, I have always observed the discrimination in the perspective of the ‘minor’ gender. Throughout history, when women had taken one step forward with much difficulty, men had taken three steps forward with natural ease. This perception may be arguable to many, but it is one I firmly believe in.

On May 17th 2016, Korea’s subdued population awoke to a startling murder case; a male perpetrator had stabbed a young woman to death out of his hatred for women – he had felt they ‘ignored and humiliated him all his life.’ This event has catalysed a stimulating debate that challenged the established sexist views and the large influence of misogyny on the daily lives of Korean women, who have often been treated as second-class citizens and suffered unjustifiable counts of violence, objectification and prejudice. Nonetheless, countless of Korean men still do not acknowledge the deep rooted patriarchal view that is becoming toxic to the progress of South Korea as a nation, even in the 21st century.  

So why is Korea, one of the most developed Asian countries, so backwards in their reasoning behind their ideology? The answer to this question can be found through their progress of fast industrialization and development, which were more of a priority than modernising the culture and philosophy of the country. Despite the respect and pride I have for the difficult journey that my nation has undergone, I cannot ignore one of the most critical issues that is causing the decay of the Korean society – gender disparity and misogyny. The Republic of Korea ranks very low in international comparisons of gender equality, ranking 115th out of 145 countries according to the Global Gender Gap Report. There is no straightforward solution, but improvements have been made. In 2013, Korea had elected their first female president and had created an independent ministry of gender equality and family. Yet, there is still much to be accomplished in order for Korea to meet the targets of SDG 5.

This brings me to an essential aspect of my vision. Gender equality is not a ‘women’ issue –  it is an ‘everyone’ issue, which requires the combined efforts of both men and women to achieve this crucial goal together. Just as there are two genders, the responsibility and ability to create change is divided equally. Our world needs men to cooperate and empower women as well; the HeForShe campaign, initiated by UN Women, is an accurate representation of this conception. Furthermore, Model United Nations is where we, the new generation, can have a voice and the ability to aid the progress of gender equality. Where past generations have failed attempts, we will succeed in creating an equal society, as we are the enlightened generation that can see the truth of our world and act upon it.

 

If SDG 5 brings the world one-step closer towards this change, Model United Nations hands us the power to grasp it.

 

The Power of Gathering the Passionate at #QLC17

The Birth of #MUNimpact: the power of gathering the passionate
by Sean Robinson, Teach SDGs

Honour and awe were two emotions I continually felt on my trip to the Middle East as I represented TeachSDGs at the 2017 Qatar Leadership Conference (QLC) in Doha, Qatar.  From the moment I hopped on the Qatar Foundation bus taking me to the Qatar National Convention Centre to the final goodbyes from the MUN Thought Leaders’ Summit at the Qatar Foundation Headquarters, I was awed by the amazing individuals surrounding me.  That was impressive enough—though I had suspected that Lisa Martin, the Head of THIMUN Qatar and the heart and soul of the QLC, would gather some remarkable world changers to the conference.  What I didn’t expect was how these influential individuals from across the globe would come together to create a brand new MUN initiative focused on ensuring that MUN would always move beyond simulation to impact.

Travelling to this MUN-focused conference from Canada, I was well aware that I lacked the deep knowledge of Model United Nations that others at the conference would have.  That didn’t bother me.  Always in the back of my mind, it was action that I was to share at the conference.  The connections-based learning approach that I use in my teaching is all about action.  I don’t want my students to imagine what it is like to compete for a spot to deliver experiments into space.  I want them to compete for those spots.  I don’t want my students to simply learn the mechanics of water purifiers.  I want them to meet real innovators, who are building water purifiers for needy communities, and help them.  I don’t want my students to just learn about Ohm’s Law.  I want them to make solar powered lanterns that they can share with their learning partners in communities dealing with light poverty. And as part of the Global Goals Educator Task force (TeachSDGs), I am all about action: encouraging and inspiring teachers around the world to take action to help achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs).  I felt I was at the QLC to speak action into the conference.

This was my mindset as I shook off my jetlag and met the other presenters with whom I would be spending the next few days.  I was fortunate to connect with Natabara Rollosson, a creative producer for UN high level events who launched Comics Uniting Nations, and Sergio Fernández de Córva, chairman of PVBLIC Foundation, as I hopped on my very first bus ride to the Convention Centre.  The three of us were slated to hold a panel sharing “Behind the Scenes” SDG work and I was eager to discuss our approach.  Right away, I was impressed.  These two individuals had a deep knowledge of the history of the SDGs and how they are being addressed through artistic means.  Off the side of his desk, Natabara creates comics to support children understanding and acting on the SDGs.  I immediately thought of how TeachSDGs could partner with him to help share the stories of the SDG superheroes Comics Uniting Nations creates.

Still in that first bus ride, I turned to a fellow squeezed beside me to make conversation.  I introduced myself and listened with ever-growing awe as he explained who he was.  Rahmatullah Hamdard offered me his card and shared that he was the founder of HELA (Hope for Education and Leadership in Afghanistan), the first ever MUN NGO.  Later he would present to the conference alongside his 19-year-old partner Sulaiman Sulaimankhil pictures of the first Model United Nations meeting in Kabul, in a darkened room heated by a kerosene lamp.  And then share how far MUN has come in Afghanistan.  What an honour to meet those two.

The amazing meetups continued.  During the conference I kept meeting two English chaps in the conference hall foyer.  We would chat as we waited for the bus back to the hotel.  Later I would find out that they travel to Bangladesh and build prosthetic limbs out of old drain pipes for the amputees there.  Riding in a taxi with these doctors, Matthew Walton and Zaamin Hussain, to the Museum of Islamic Art, the taxi driver who was from Bangladesh mentioned to that he knew of their work. This is the kind of impact that these two were making.

 

On that same taxi ride, I got to know Aditya Soma, executive director of Worldview Education.  He was actually sitting in the front of the taxi translating what the taxi driver was saying about Matt and Zaamin.  As I learned more about Aditya, I was impressed by his work to ignite the students of India to take action on the SDGs.  The MUN students with whom he works are to be so much more than delegates, but to be advocates, mentors, and organizers involved in service.  He mentioned to me how, though MUN can be an expensive endeavour leaving out some for financial reasons, he is working to make MUN freely accessed in India.

There were so many more people I was honoured to meet.  I was able to spend time with Ugbad Kasim who works with the World Food Program in Somolia.  She shared at the conference of the difficulties her and her 7 sisters faced to receive an education growing up in Somalia and the sacrifices her mother made to ensure that her and her sisters were able to go to school.  I spent time to with Gilberto Duarte, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer at the UNODC in Vienna, and Reinhardt Smit who works to recycle end-of-life mobile phones from Africa and Asia.  Even the young man who was making sure we all got on to the bus, Kudzai Mukaratirwa, was actually Director of THIMUN OMUN leading a team of 28 high school and university students from around the world to run the Online Model United Nations program.

These are just a few of the scores of individuals that gathered in Doha, Qatar to share with the student attendees.  Throughout the conference, I sensed that I was in the company of like-minded individuals.  I began to realize that I wasn’t there to speak action into MUN, but to add my voice to the growing choir.  The voices were there, they were simply needing to align, to sing in harmony.  Toward the end of the conference, Lisa brought us together to do just that.  The conversation at her SDGs Discussion workshop and the ensuing Thought Leaders Summit revolved around the question: “How do we utilize the power of MUN to make an impact?”  Through these discussions, MUNimpact was formed: a collective of world changers devoted to igniting and celebrating MUN impact—both in the individual and the community.

The influence of this new offering has already rippled across the globe: a new website, a social media presence, stories of impact, and students and educators wanting to join in.  I am excited to see where this goes as we explore the power of gathering the passionate.  I am honoured to be numbered a part of this group and in awe of what has and what can be accomplished through us.

Ryan Villanueva: On Leadership at #QLC17

THIMUN Qatar was honored to have Mr Ryan Villanueva, co-founder of Best Delegate and recipient of the THIMUN Qatar Lifetime Achievement Award, as keynoter for the final plenary of QLC 2017. Here is both the video and transcript of that speech.

Thank you again to Ryan for his years of service to THIMUN Qatar, and for closing out the conference on such an inspirational note!

 

Mr. Secretary-General, Distinguished Guests, Fellow Presenters, Directors, Delegates, and Friends,

Salaam Alaykum! 

I first want to say congratulations to the Secretary-General, the admin staff and student leaders, and the TQ office for hosting a wonderful conference. Thank you all of your hard work in putting this incredible event together.

Secondly, I want to say thank you again for the lifetime achievement award. I was completely surprised and I didn’t know what to say — and I teach public speaking! When I realized what you were about to do, I also realized I had 30 seconds to make up a thank you speech and I kept thinking of what I teach my students: Hook, Point, Action!

Seriously though, thank you again, and even though my name is on the award, I see it as recognition of the work that my co-founder, KFC, and I both did when we first started visiting the Middle East and developing teacher training, and recognition of our work at Best Delegate to create global citizens through Model UN. Again, thank you.

This is my 6th QLC, meaning I’ve attended every year since the first conference in 2012. I attended because my KFC and I visited The Hague in 2012 to blog about the THIMUN Conference on bestdelegate.com. We were in the approval panel, when a Qatar Academy student named Burhan Mahmoud saw KFC’s lapel pin, and Burhan asked, “Are you guys from Best Delegate? My director wants to meet you.”

Burhan introduced us to Cameron Janzen, the former Executive Director of THIMUN Qatar, who had a vision for Model UN in the Middle East. And he had an idea for a different type of MUN conference, one that would feature presenters from all over the world, and where students would present to their peers and professionals, and where every session, every speech, and every story would be a different answer to the core question of the conference:

What is leadership? What does it mean to be a leader? And most importantly, how do we empower today’s students to become tomorrow’s leaders?

Starting with that first QLC, I have lead sessions and trainings at every conference. But I didn’t realize until today that each session and training has been my answer to the core question of the conference, “What is Leadership?”

For me, leadership started with being a Model UN delegate in high school 17 years ago, and learning to lead in committee, learning that “winning” best delegate didn’t mean overpowering other delegates, it meant empowering other delegates; I learned that the best delegate brings out the best in other delegates.

I went on to become a chair, and a Secretary-General, and win over $20,000 in college scholarships because of MUN. That helped me get into Yale, where I continued to do Model UN and become Secretary-General of Yale’s conference. And in my senior year of college, when I thought I was done with Model UN, I started a website called bestdelegate.com.

That moment was 10 years ago this week. And that one decision has changed the rest of my life. Because I went to work on Wall Street, at Goldman Sachs, during the 2008 global financial crisis. And I did that for two years, and I asked myself, “Is this what I want to do with my life?” And then I quit in order to take this website and turn it into a company.

I know I’ve shared this story at every session and training, and that many of you at this point can give this story for me. But what I haven’t done until now is answer the question, “What is Leadership?”

And I don’t have a precise definition to offer you. I don’t think of leadership as any one thing. And part of the point of this conference is to figure out what leadership means to you. But if there’s one thing that I know about leadership, it’s this:

Leadership comes from experience.

In my experience, leadership comes from creating things that are useful and valuable to other people, whether that’s our website or our trainings.

In my experience, leadership means making mistakes, and even failing, but willing to be open to feedback, to pick myself up and improve and get that much better next time.

In my experience, leadership means making sacrifices. I went from working on Wall Street to not making a living for a few years. I went from living in NYC to moving back home. And KFC and I wanted to visit a lot of MUN conferences to learn about what makes them different and special and that meant staying with a lot of friends to sleep on a lot of couches and a lot of floors in order to save money.

But in my experience, leadership also means not going it alone. I have a co-founder and we complement each other’s leadership styles. We created and empowered teams to run our website, and teach our MUN camps, and manage the company. And we get to work with incredible individuals and educators and partners across the globe.

In my experience, leadership means being part of a community and working together and helping each other to get that much better.

I never imagined in my wildest dreams that this is where my journey would take me — and standing up here, where I get to travel around the world and help other people through something that helped me as a student — Model UN makes my dreams come true

That’s been my experience with leadership. But here at the QLC, every session, every speech, and every story is a different answer to the core question of the conference, What is Leadership?

For many of the students here, leadership is waking up on a weekend to work on global issues.

Leadership is the shy student getting over their fear of public speaking in order to give that first speech. Leadership is the student officer managing a committee and a conference of their peers.Leadership is a young woman wanting to take this experience back to her people and creating a center that stands for her name: peace.

Leadership is a pair of young men fighting daily struggles and security challenges in order to create an NGO that gives their country something it desperately needs: hope. And for many of the educators here, leadership is every day in the classroom, and every weekend where you’re taking time out of your schedules and away from their families in order to take your students to a Model UN conference.

Leadership is a group of dedicated educators creating a foundation that would empower student leaders for 50 years and more. Leadership is a visionary creating partnerships to build an oasis of learning in the Middle East. Leadership is a dreamer who creates a better world where students can connect and empower one and make their own dreams come true.

A Leader is a Dream Maker.

The beauty of the QLC is we the opportunity to share our experiences, and with every session, every speech, every story, present a different answer to the core question of the conference, “What is Leadership?”

But of all the answers we’ve heard this weekend — of all the answers shared over the past six years — there’s only one answers that really matters:

Yours.

And this is one of those questions where there’s no single right answer — but there is a wrong answer — and the wrong answer is to do nothing.

If you have the privilege of coming to this conference and you go home and do nothing — then you’ve failed.

Because coming to a leadership conference does not make you a leader — what you do after the conference — that does.

If you’ve listened to all of these amazing sessions, and speeches, and stories — and you are full of energy and inspiration — then do something with it.

Try that much harder at your next conference and your next speech.

Make mistakes and fail and pick yourself up and get feedback and improve and get that much better.

Create something — something useful and valuable that will help other people.

Make someone else’s dream come true.

Because you don’t have to go it alone. You are part of a community community of people who want to help each other’s dreams come true.

Of all the sessions and the speeches and the stories, that’s the one common theme: we lead when we help each other succeed.

So let’s help each other succeed

Let’s help each other learn how to lead

Let’s make each other’s dreams come true

Let’s answer the question of the QLC

Let’s answer the call to action of the Qatar Leadership Conference

Empowering the Leaders of Tomorrow

Empowering the Leaders of Tomorrow
from Zaamin Hussain and Matthew Walton

At 24 years old, being invited across the world to speak at the Qatar Leadership Conference was a thrilling prospect, but no small undertaking. This was an enormous opportunity to influence young impressionable minds and spread awareness about some of the most pressing global health problems currently being faced by the poorest communities in the world.

Our work with amputees in Bangladesh epitomized the deeply-ingrained inequalities in access and affordability of healthcare worldwide. As one of the few at the conference coming from a healthcare background and primarily working on United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3: Good Health and Well Being, we were in a unique but important position to convey this message. The maturity and social awareness we encountered in handling sensitive issues was astonishing. It was a truly uplifting experience to feel the positive energy, generosity and the willingness to help by all of the delegates.  

Outside our presentations, many discussions were had in corridors, elevators, and over lunch with presenters as well as students from diverse backgrounds across the world. It was only after this that the intricacies of the relationships between the SDGs was made even more clear to us, and further elucidated the importance of health and well-being across the spectrum. We found the diversity of the conference an incredible asset, and it was clear that only with cross-pollination of ideas and teamwork were solutions to some of the world’s largest problems to be uncovered.

Having the chance to motivate, engage and inspire the leaders of tomorrow was a privilege, and it has made it clear to us that empowering our youth is the best solution to ensure the future is what we want it to be. We have left QLC inspired ourselves, with new ideas to continue in our mission to make a difference in the world.

 

Thank you QLC,

 

–  Zaamin Hussain and Matthew Walton

 

The QLC – A New Presenter’s First Impressions

MUN Student Reflections – Qatar Leadership Conference – 19-21 October, 2017
By Ahmed Al Naimi

QLC is one of the most beneficial events in the region. The THIMUN Qatar team did an excellent job organizing a noteworthy conference this year, which I proudly participated in. It provided participants a foundation for all their skills through its varied range of topics. QLC was a platform for students and adults to simultaneously network, learn, and present. It was an honor for me to be among the presenters at QLC 2017, where I gave a workshop titled “Aspiring Leaders: Mining Your Inner Leadership Potential”. I had the privilege of meeting countless other presenters from all around the world as well as locals here in Qatar. I got to learn about them, their diverse backgrounds, and intriguing stories. One thing about QLC that you do not find in other conferences is the many influential people that gather under the QNCC roof. The chance to learn from them through conversations and of course, their workshops was so valuable.

The best aspect of QLC is the experience being a presenter. As a presenter, I was given the pleasure of preparing a workshop for students and teachers of many backgrounds. It was the barrier I broke when standing in front of many unfamiliar faces and presenting that sparked a change in my character. Never would I have expected the number of people that came. The feeling was exhilarating and truly unexpected. Many people lining up at the door of your room while waiting to participate in the workshop. Then actually delivering and providing them with what I promised was very encouraging for me. The planning behind the workshop was very tedious although entertaining. I enjoyed every moment rehearsing and even researching, it was definitely worth it. I enjoyed answering every question and interacting with my audience in my method of teaching through exploration. Most importantly, I enjoyed giving to the global community and the future leaders of the world. 

 

HELA visits American School of Doha

Hope for Education and Leadership In Afghanistan founder and co-founder, Rahmatullah Hamdard and Sulaiman Sulaimankhil, along with HELA member Hidayet Nooshin, paid a visit to the American School of Doha on October 18th, 2017 in conjunction with their visit to Qatar for #QLC17. The HELA reps had the opportunity to tour the campus, hold a series of meetings with school and MUN club leadership, and visit to an IB Global Politics class, to share their story and drum up support for their upcoming THIMUN Qatar delegation.  ASD, as a component of their learning service program, have made a major commitment to support the HELA delegation to attend the annual TQ conference. The Parent Teacher Association, the Arab Mothers Association, and a private donation from Illham Afiouni and her business, My Gym, have largely underwritten travel for HELA, with the TQ office and local hotels providing additional support.

On the opening day of the Qatar Leadership Conference, representatives of the ASD PTA, AMA and My Gym, were recognized for support and received small tokens of appreciation from the HELA team.

The THIMUN Qatar office is grateful for the generosity of the American School of Doha, teachers- students and parents, and their willingness to support this amazing MUN program.

MUN directors get their debate on!

Teachers from across Doha were once again treated to a day and a half of Model United Nations professional development at the Qatar Leadership Conference 2017. This high quality training, the Director’s Training Institute-developed and delivered by Best Delegate- has been a smash hit over the past four years, training hundreds of MUN teachers and directors in the finer arts of Model UN. One of the highlights of this training is the much anticipated Directors Debate, where teachers have to walk through an entire debate process, start to finish. From the look of the photos, our teachers were as engaged as their high school counterparts, giving everyone a personal connection for what MUN delegates experience as they participate in conference proceedings.

We congratulate all Director Training Institute participants for jumping in their delegate roles, for learning about MUN, and for the work they do in supporting their clubs and students in the process!

A Treasured Experience

A Treasured Experience
A Post-QLC Reflection by Dana Smiley

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the 6th Annual Qatar Leadership Conference in Doha, Qatar, and it was one of the best events I have ever been a part of. As a high school student in the United States, I interact with teenagers every day who are almost entirely uninformed regarding world issues. I was shocked by how many brilliant and compassionate individuals gathered together for the QLC. I felt a strong sense of global community in every session and was thoroughly impressed with the number of driven and forward-thinking students and teachers taking initiative in their schools and communities.

I presented a service learning project I worked on with Qatar Foundation International at the conference and was thrilled at how my audience was genuinely interested in what I had done. I did not meet a single conference attendee who wasn’t open-minded, and because of this, I was able to feel as though I taught and inspired others in the same ways they taught and inspired me.

Though the QLC was not my first conference, it quickly became my favorite. Every workshop I attended and every speaker I heard was engaging and intriguing. I learned so much about leadership, making a difference in the world, and myself. Because of the Qatar Leadership Conference, I now have the tools and motivation to follow my passions, increase my community involvement, take leadership roles, and seize opportunities that will allow me to better the lives of others. This conference had a huge impact on me and contributed to my first Middle Eastern experience far exceeding my expectations. I feel honored to have been able to be a part of a conference where some of the best and brightest minds share ideas and know it is something I will never forget and always treasure.

 

Inspired Poem – “Civilized”

“Civilized”

 

These lines we cannot stop ourselves drawing

to divide a breathing sum into parts

we call redefinition

as with each new division

we rip ourselves further apart.

 

Our words are our sticks and stones

flung high to scratch the thrones

of great higher powers

with faces like ours

whose minds can never be known.

 

We spin and whirl through endless space

in which we seem to have no place

and we wail and we claw

at each fault and flaw

we think we can replace.

 

For all the things we take and give,

ourselves the least we should forgive;

but our beautiful ruins

are what make us most human

So live, and let live.

 

Nayef Al Obaidan- Head of Admin

Nayef Al Obaidan- Head of Admin
Oroni Hasan

 

Nayef Al Obaidan, the head of the admins, has more than just responsibilities. He shares some of his background as a hard-working admin, obstacles he’s faced, his positive experiences in QLC, and some of the things he’s gained from this conference. Without Obaidan’s efforts to guide a smooth conference, we wouldn’t be enjoying QLC very much!

Obaidan has been an admin for many MUN-related conferences, and is fully committed to his duties. He has faced the challenge of being involved in constant work and follow ups. Using his admirable organization skills and his natural leadership skills, Obaidan has also been able to guide the admin team, who are responsible for maintaining the order of the conference and assisting people around the building. He compliments the hard work of the admins and says that without their efforts and hard work, “no conference would be able to succeed so smoothly and precisely”.

Furthermore, Obaidan also shares what he appreciates most about QLC. He admires the fact that people of all ages from so many different cultures and regions are able to present in this conference and teach us about their perspectives and experiences. The collaboration and exchange of ideas can teach us valuable lessons, and is what makes this conference so beneficial.

While Obaidan does enjoy his time in QLC, he mentions some of the challenges he has to face. He utters about how being in charge of everything can be overwhelming. Preparing for the conference involves plenty of time management, organization, and planning. Being the Head of Admin is a lot of work, and we don’t blame him for feeling overwhelmed!

Obaidan also mentions some of the benefits he’s gained from this conference. He mentions that he used to be shy and reserved, and that by being perseverant, he’s been able to gain more communication and leadership skills. He’s become more confident and decisioned during complex and irregular situations. With lots of personal experience in these kind of conferences, he’s become proficient enough to become Head of Admin, which we praise him for.