Film Fest : A dusty day one

Nature was not particularly kind to participants on day one of the THIMUN Qatar Northwestern Film Festival. So what do visiting student directors do when Doha comes to a grinding halt, most things are closed, and you need to stay indoors?  You do what most folks in Doha do. You hit the malls!! And that is exactly what our Directors did!

Villagio Mall

 

Villagio Mall, where skies are blue!
Villagio Mall, where skies are blue!
Laser Tag
Laser Tag
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TQ’s IT guy, Abhay, and Afghan Children’s Director, Rahmat
Break time at the Islamic Museum of Art
Break time at the Islamic Museum of Art

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Charlie, Director of Safe Driving Saves Lives, applies some creative energy to the dusty grass outside the Islamic Museum.
Charlie, Director of Safe Driving Saves Lives, applies some creative energy to the dusty grass outside the Islamic  Art Museum.

The Film Festival is back on track tomorrow with the Desert GoPro Challenge. Watch the blog for updates!

AISMUN 2015 Recap

AISMUN in Cairo is one of the oldest THIMUN-affiliated conferences in the Middle East. The MUNification press team at American International School, led by Malak Sekaly and Sara Elmessiry, gives us this recap of AISMUN 2015.

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This is now the 25th consecutive year that students will proudly add ‘attending AISMUN’ on their list of high school memories. The American International School of Egypt established AISMUN in 1991; since then it has grown to be the largest student-led organization in AIS as well as one of the most respected conferences in Egypt and the Middle East. The Model United Nations is much more than an extracurricular activity people participate in for the mere purpose of having a more impressive college application; MUN is a lifetime experience that truly does develop valuable skills. AISMUN’s essential purpose is to give high school students a glimpse of the real world. We here at AIS strive to create high school graduates who are critical thinkers and visionaries.

Christopher Hitchens once said “The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks”. This is exactly what AISMUN offers its participants: a chance to think outside of the box of conformity and conventionality. With eight wonderful forums, a well-organized secretariat, and an astonishing media team, AISMUN offers an experience that people cherish. I can undoubtedly speak for almost everyone who’s attended AISMUN before and say that it’s truly one of the best experiences high school has to offer.

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The theme of AISMUN this year is liberty, independence, and the transfer of powers within nations. Our slogan is Spreading the Wings of Freedom. All forums have collectively chosen to discuss topics and issues that coincide with the theme and emulate the slogan. With issues ranging from the GA’s “Rise of violent actions against Islam and Arabs” to the discussion of the Ukraine conflict in the Security Council, AISMUN truly does have much to offer.

The Secretary General and everyone participating in this AISMUN conference hopes to see possible solutions to the wide range of issues at hand. For years now AISMUN has been a THIMUN affiliated MUN conference. Undoubtedly, this is something everyone at AIS takes pride in. There are countless prestigious conferences around the world that are affiliated with THIMUN such as Berlin MUN, Rome International MUN, and St. Andrews MUN. Keeping AISMUN amongst such respected conferences is something we strive to maintain. There are many great benefits to being a THIMUN affiliated conference. Firstly, assistance is offered from the THIMUN office in the setting up and organizing process. Also, it provides accreditation from the world’s foremost international Model United Nations. And it provides the opportunity of sharing knowledge between great minds of both teachers and students.

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One might wonder what the purpose of MUN is. There are innumerable benefits. Pages and pages couldn’t do justice to the extent to which MUN is beneficial. MUN promotes interest and support for working later for the United Nations. It also promotes interaction and dialogue between young people with different nationalities, cultures, and perspectives, which allows for wonderful exposure of people from around the world. One of the main keys of success is allowing for different perspectives to work with one another. One resolution is not the same as many resolutions merging together to offer the best possible solutions. Hence, MUN truly does tackle the significance of the formation of decisions based on global perspectives.

Another great benefit of MUN is that it brings to light many important issues and conflicts that people often neglect. This provides participants at AISMUN with a wider scope of the world beyond rigid textbooks and fixed rubrics. No amount of words can emphasize the extent to which AISMUN is an unforgettable experience. Not only does it develop extraordinary skills that people take with them outside the walls of the forums, but it also brings people of different mindsets and perspectives together and offers the chance to merge such different mindsets together to form outstanding solutions to prevalent issues.

One can never put the memorable experience MUN offers into words and so it is important for everyone to join an MUN conference and witness it first-hand. As Deputy President of the International Court of Justice at AISMUN, I can speak for myself and for everyone else and say that I am proud to be a participant in the American International School of Egypt’s 25th Model United Nations conference.

Leadership Posts Announced for TQ 2016

THIMUN Qatar is pleased to announce its leadership positions for 2015-2016

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THIMUN Qatar Conference

Secretary General:

Adeeba Ahmad, Qatar Academy

Deputy Secretary General: Thushan Puhalendran, Doha College

 

 

Deputy Secretary General: Ola Al Tai, Qatar International School

Deputy Secretary General: Sana Zehra, DPS Modern Indian School

Deputy Secretary General:  Salah Mahmoud, Qatar Academy

President of the General Assembly: Christopher Nasrawi, Park House

Deputy President GA:  Dana Al Shamlan, Qatar Academy

Deputy President GA: Jassim Abel, American School of Doha

Head of Press:   Hannah Akhtar, Qatar Academy

Head of Admin: Mahum Mujeeb,  Qatar Academy

Head of IT:  Pending

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Qatar Leadership Conference

Secretary General: Razan El Kalhout, Qatar Academy

Deputy:  Nadia Bahemia, Doha College

Deputy:  Aaser Sadek, Qatar Academy

Deputy: Lama Ahmed, American School of Doha

Deputy:  Vaidehi Viswanath, Qatar Academy

Deputy: Jacob Bulbul, American School of Doha

Head of Admin: Reem Addam, Qatar Academy

 

The THIMUN Qatar office is located at Qatar Academy. The QAMUN club, close to 150 students strong, is an integral part of the THIMUN Qatar support network, and as such, are mentioned below.

QAMUN President: AbdulRahman Al-Mana

Deputy President: Tartelle Altigani

Deputy President: Aaser Sadek

Deputy President: Reem Al-Khori

Outreach Coordinator: Nour Ahmed

Public Affairs Coordinator: Diya  Gokulakrishnan

Deputy Public Affairs Coordinator: Soyeon Ju

Head of JrMUN: Ahmed Al-Hajari

Head of Arabic MUN: Dana Al Shamlam

QA Action Co-Presidents:  Dania Nasir and Sarah Al Ani

Congratulations to all our student leaders and for epitomizing the best in THIMUN’s student-centered philosophy of active, student leadership.

‘Empowering today’s youth….shaping tomorrow’s leaders’

 
 

 

 

 

 

Before the memory fades…my reflection on TQ2015

As the office transitions into Film Festival mode, the MUN storeroom is finally organized, and the QLC venue is fully booked, I thought it was time to add my own personal reflection on the conference that was THIMUN Qatar 2015. With hardly a moment’s downtime since Mike Lee, PGA of the conference, brought down that final gavel and the skateboarding divas made an appearance in Education City during Cultural Night, it has been hard to catch my breath and think too deeply about the amazing events that transpired the first week of February. I seem to keep coming back to words like ‘magical’ to describe this event. So I’m going to try and capture the magic, before it fades too far away.

First, a small disclaimer. One day, when my MUN days are behind me, I will write a book on the ‘behind the scenes’ drama that takes place at a big conference like THIMUN Qatar. Yes, they were there, causing stressful moments, fearful moments and downright anger.  The pulling of the HRC issue on Baluchistan was the public drama, but there were behind the scenes dramas too. But these account for a tiny fraction of my THIMUN Qatar experience.  Some day, I WILL write this book, and it will be a good one!

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But today, a group of five THIMUN Qatar 2015 delegates started the first THIMUN club in Afghanistan. And the events that made THIMUN Qatar so special were epitomized by 22 Afghan delegates and their five teachers, getting their first orientation to MUN on a cold afternoon in Kabul, seemingly worlds away from the state-of-the-art Qatar National Convention Center. Anyone who seriously loves MUN will understand that in fact these are just two sides of the same coin. It’s about power and connection: feeling empowered and knowing there is strength in collaboration.  The THIMUN philosophy epitomizes this. THIMUN Qatar’s delegates, student officers, ADMIN, Press, IT, and Executive team prove time and again that this isn’t some abstract theory. Read the THIMUN Qatar blog these past weeks, and you will understand.

Here are some of my magical moments at THIMUN Qatar 2015:

Qatar Foundation’s HR Department: SHOUT OUT to the guys that got everyone their visas…the last one secured as he was on his way to the airport the day before the conference. That’s a 100% success rate, folks!!  If you got a visa through our office, it is time to give thanks where thanks are due! Thank you Mr Al Suwaidi and Mr Salem Al-Marri. Thank you for making dreams come true.

Qasemi Delegation Opening Ceremonies: The color! The pageantry! Angelika Kuster’s artful hand, and Head of Admin Maisha Loveday’s attention to detail resulted in our largest Parade of Nations ever, and it was impressive! In case that wasn’t enough to get you in the mood, it was quickly followed by a moving keynote by Peter Dalglish, an incredible performance by the American School Band and Choir (who sang an utterly amazing rendition of Famine Song), and the Shell representative making his opening remarks and giving a shout out to his own daughter, an MUN delegate in the crowd.

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 Osama Ghani: Osama and I have taken quite the MUN journey together. That’s another blog post, but I was very proud to see my Secretary General making his very moving opening speech. But I never did get to meet his parents 🙁

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The Secretariat:  Boring. No Story. No drama. No stress. No mess.  And for the record, I DO consider this a magical moment. I love you guys! Thanks for keeping the conference humming quietly along in spite of the broken copy machine, which leads me to….

Photocopying Angels: Abhay and Bonaficio, who stayed up half the night at Qatar Academy and got all the resolutions printed on time. While this certainly was not magical for our IT coordinator and QA photocopying technician, it WAS like magic to see those thousands of pages of resolutions sitting at the door of the office early Thursday morning. Magical and miraculous.

Arabic Committee: This was a THIMUN Qatar first, and one that was both a challenge to bring to fruition but one that ultimately showed the true potential of Arabic language MUN. Each and every delegate in that committee should be proud for making history. I certainly was very proud  of them. A very special hat tip to TQ’s Arabic Consultant, Nabilla Elassar, who made this committee happen.

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Director’s Training Institute: Seeing a room full of teachers acting as delegates acting as students is great. KFC from Best Delegate did a great job in helping teach MUN to teachers who were interested in getting a deeper understanding of the MUN program. They had an awesome debate on drone technology the following day. We’ll be holding this again next year. It was a great success.

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TQ-Afghanistan ‘Press Conference’: A lot of tears were shed in room 102 as the delegation representing Djibouti shared their Kabul to Doha journey, supported by their friends and online collaborators who stood behind them, literally and metaphorically, every step of the way. For many this was the most emotional moment of THIMUN Qatar, making today’s MUN meeting in Kabul today even more special. This delegation touched people’s hearts and brought the conference together as a community. It was magic.

The Delegationthe team

My mom: Yes, my mother attended her first MUN conference. She came all the way from California for the event. I understand she spoke to at least half of the THIMUN Qatar crowd. That’s what half the THIMUN Qatar crowd tells me. it was great to have her here 🙂

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Closing Ceremonies: Too many wonderful moments here, but having the Afghan Delegation on the stage with their ambassador to Doha was as amazing as DSG Shahd’s closing speech. Both were amazing and very moving.

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Cultural Night:  I got on a skateboard. YES!  I did, kindly helped by Skateistan’s Talia Kaufmann. My daughter got some skateboarding lessons from Mursal and Madina. (Thanks to Beruk for bringing the extra board!) The John Burrough’s students got ‘hennaed’ (not a real word) and some Palestinian delegates from the special OMUN delegation shared their culture in an impressive display of folkloric dancing. Tariq arranged for the falcon, and lots of good music and hot tea were enjoyed by all at the heart of Education City. It was a good, good night.

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 There’s another book I want to write, but that is the one I will carry in my heart and cherish for as long as I live..the private and not so private stories of transformation and empowerment that THIMUN Qatar has brought to individuals. If you have made it this far and are nodding in agreement, you will know I am speaking to you! Whether through Facebook or Blackboard Collaborate, via email or Whats App, via face to face interactions at the reflection pool or in the TQ office surrounded by enthusiastic students, this is what gives meaning to my THIMUN Qatar memories. It’s not just delegates who are grateful for being part of THIMUN Qatar 2015. I am very VERY grateful too.

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Travel to another world: US Delegation’s visit to THIMUN Qatar

Joshua Kazdan was part of the John Burrough’s delegation, travelling all the way from the United States and for most, making their first visit to the Middle East. Joshua shares this moving piece about the difference, and most importantly, similarities, the delegation experienced while in Doha.

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Fourteen hours across four continents brought this year’s Burroughs delegation to its unprecedented destination: Qatar.  Traditionally, our school has always attended THIMUN in the Hague, but this year, Director of Student Activities Andrew Newman spearheaded an effort to expand the school’s global connections.  Burroughs is in the middle of a radical reform movement focused on the promotion of cultural tolerance and diversity.  The departure from our routine journey to Europe marks another level of this initiative.  “We’re going global,” said headmaster Andy Abbott.

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This untraditional travel decision presented unexpected experiences to delegation members  “You can’t ride camels and hold falcons in the Hague!” said one student.  Most of the participants had never experienced a Middle Eastern country before, and doing so remodeled our perceptions of Islam and the Arab world.  Perhaps the most reforming experience involved spending an afternoon on a dhow boat cruise with the Afghan delegation.  Despite shared interests in television programs and sports, the maturity and worldliness of the Afghan delegates soon became apparent.  Already at ages seventeen and eighteen, these students had struggled to voice their beliefs, transcending fear and adversity to attend the conference.  These students already stood for something, and conversing with such inspiring characters proved a humbling experience for me.

The conference itself also presented new opportunities that challenged us to negotiate cultural differences.  When do we shake hands with members of the opposite genders?  How do we disagree respectfully?  As a member of the press team, I had to walk a sensitive line between objective accuracy and subjective opinion, always ensuring that inferences were drawn without biases.  However, a sense of unexpected similarities pervaded the conference, overshadowing minor differences.

Overall, I think that the students open-minded enough to travel with the Burroughs delegation developed a more accurate perception of Muslim countries than that which our media delivers to us.  Qatar represents a juxtaposition of tradition and modernity– a country striving to preserve its cultural origins while transitioning into a global economic powerhouse.  Unlike many citizens of other countries, Qataris have a strong sense of identity, purpose, and national loyalty.

Since returning to America with this more nuanced view of the Middle East, we have faced a new challenge– articulating what we have experienced so that it may benefit and inform others.

 

Film Festival Updates: Best National Film Nominations

The THIMUN Qatar Northwestern Film Festival is pleased to announce the nominations for Best National Film.

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And the nominations are:

 

Learning to Dare, by Ward Ayan

Sincerely Bahadur, by Mohammed Ali Faisal

The Tipping Point, by Dulshan Jayasekera

Al-Yateem, by Ali Mahmoud

If They Only Knew, by Sana Al-Ansari

 

Film Festival Updates: Best Story Nominations

The THIMUN Qatar Northwestern Film Festival is pleased to announce the nominations for Best Story.

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And the nominations are:

 

Hands of a Woman, by Miguel Andrade

The Tipping Point, by Dulshan Jayasekera

The Workers, by Keiran Dawson

Learning to Dare, by Ward Ayan

Sincerely Bahadur, by Mohammed Ali Faisal

 

Film Festival Updates: Best Sound Nominations

The THIMUN Qatar Northwestern Film Festival is pleased to announce the nominations for Best Sound.

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And the nominations are:

 

Afghan Children, by Rahmatullah Hamdard

Forlorn, by Hugo Fernandez

The Cleansing, by Vedika Modi & Kaavya Arakoni

The Tipping Point, by Dulshan Jayasekera

If They Only Knew, by Sana Al-Ansari

 

Film Festival Updates: Best Editing Nominations

The THIMUN Qatar Northwestern Film Festival is pleased to announce the nominations for Best Editing.

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And the nominations are:

Cyber Bullying, by Barnaby Duffy

If They Only Knew, by Sana Al-Ansari

The Tipping Point, by Dulshan Jayasekera

Safe Driving Saves Lives, by Charlie Cracknell