There is probably not an MUN program or conference in the GCC region that has not felt the bite of the blockade currently in place against Qatar. I will leave it to future delegate-diplomats to sort through the chaos and find solutions to an events such as these. But for the poor-suffering conference manager trying to keep a chaotic situation from blowing a hole in their conference preparations? Well, here’s a breif recap of the challenges we are facing.
Before I share this, let’s just reflect on the fact that the MUN community is that, A COMMUNITY. As Model United Nations has grown in the region, many of us have worked together, closely together, to support our students in this meaningful academic simulation. Conferences have been started, student leadership developed, increasing numbers of schools participating in MUN, and more and more teachers receiving Best Delegate training. Quality of debate has gone up, student initiatives around MUN have gone up, and the prestige of the program in many schools has become an important and driving force in the life of many students. And many of us have worked very hard for many years to get us to this point.
The blockade has impacted every country with MUN programs and it’s a two way street.
Schools cannot travel to Doha for THIMUN Qatar. We lost over 20 schools due to travel restrictions.
Airfare in the region has become prohibitively expensive. Schools in Oman got priced out due to airfare costs. They were not alone.
Conferences in Bahrain and Dubai, having slowly built up their international clientele for years, found THAT crippled due to Qatar programs not being able to participate in their events.
And then there’s Egypt…and Jordan….
And it’s not just conference attendance. This also affects the leadership development of student officers and executives. A skilled student officer can chair at multiple conference, and these experiences help prepare them for leadership roles back at their schools. THIMUN Middle East conferences are driven by unparalleled student control and leadership. Delegates are not able to debate, but student leaders aren’t able to lead. The first is bad; the second is unconscionable.
To all my fellow MUN Directors and conference organizers, delegates and students out there, all I can say is ‘hang tough’. This too shall pass. Stand strong in the face of adversity. Schools and Administrations grappling with struggling regional conferences and attendance? Show your MUN programs some love! Your support and a willingness to be flexible will make all the difference in the world to the programs that we all know and love. The MUN community in the GCC region thanks you for that!
And until we can see you in person, THIMUN Qatar sends our love! We missed you, and we hope next year will be different.
And with that, we now yield the floor to the diplomats in the region. The floor is open. You may begin….
Over the past few years, MUN has grown beyond the confines of an activity that simulates United Nations debate. Our generation has been the leading force behind the change in the definition of MUN to one that includes community outreach. We were able to do this because THIMUN Qatar taught an entire generation to walk and soon after run towards our goal of peace and social justice, because as an organisation, it understands that now more than ever we need to pave the way for humanity to fly.
Honourable Foreign Dignitaries, Guests, Directors, Delegates, Ladies and Gentleman,
This is what The Hague International Model United Nations Qatar is about, empowering leaders of the future, and I humbly welcome you to its 7th annual conference as the Secretary General and on behalf of the Executive Committee.
In MUN, we often overlook or undervalue our successes choosing to shine an unflattering light on the world instead. But 7 years on, I’d like to change this. To do this, we don’t have to look further than some delegates sitting in this theatre today – we have planted the seeds to change the future of Afghanistan thanks to a dedicated group of students fighting for their Hope for Education and Leadership in Afghanistan. To do this, we look to the Sustainable Development Goals of today, where in just less than two years, a strong momentum towards gender equality has been achieved.
This movement is in part thanks to all of you present today, and for your support towards THIMUN Qatar in organising this conference themed on the Fifth Sustainable Development Goal: Gender Equality and Women Empowerment. Even though the ending of all forms of discrimination against women has not yet been achieved worldwide, we find hope in the small stories to move us in this direction. Stories such as those of a Malawian Chief who annulled 330 child marriages in a country where over 50% of girls are married before the age of 18. Stories from my home country of Sri Lanka, when the government finally said that the Time’s Up after the creation of a Women and Child Abuse Prevention Bureau.
These stories are real, these stories are human, and it’s with this in mind that a project like MUN Impact came to be. We often talk of students engaging in MUN outside of the classroom, but how do they do this? What does it look like? How can a student possibly make a difference in the world? I urge you all to go to the MUN Impact Zone, the first of its kind for this conference, and speak to students and organisations and witness first-hand what real Impact through MUN looks like.
SDG5 is such a vital goal, as we need the full participation of women if we are to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The message we send to boys and girls today is that “men simply are who they are, but women have to construct who they are”. If we are to change this damaging social norm, we, men, also have to be a part of the conversation. We should not be trapped by our own masculinity. It isn’t emasculating to be champions of gender equality if we want all victims of domestic violence to stop questioning themselves “why me” ever again.
We run this conference in a background of regional political instability. We are saddened that our friends, long time debate partners, have not been able to come to this conference from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt. But do not be mistaken, though some of us have been made silent, our voices have never been louder.
When we can’t debate together physically in one room, we go to Online Model United Nations, a platform that has revolutionized the way we connect and debate. When we can’t listen to stories of impact and hope, we take our conversation to Twitter and Facebook where we can continue to be passionate advocates for the SDG’s. And when we can’t express our own opinions and fight for peace, and love, and hope, we become more united.
Everything I’ve mentioned is just a glimpse of what you can find and expect at this conference. Take the time to explore outside of your comfort zone, continue to ask questions and voice your own opinions, but most importantly, make memories that last a lifetime. Doing all of this has made my MUN journey so rewarding – so to those I’ve debated alongside with for years or to those I’m yet to meet at this conference, thank you for your support along the way. To my teachers and MUN directors, thank you for making me question the world around me, to my parents you’ve taught me a lot about compassion and perseverance; qualities which are needed in diplomacy today, and to the Executive Committee, thank you for our friendship over the years – Sanskriti for being my debate partner since day 1, Johann for your incredible sense of humour, and Aya for your need to have everything in pink – just to name a few people.
And lastly, to Mrs. Martin, as you move on from your position as the Head of THIMUN Qatar this year to seek new adventure, your presence will be greatly missed. Like so many of us, you’ve made me into a “foot soldier of the United Nations”. You are the reason I’m on this stage today. I don’t know what I’d be doing if I didn’t muster up the courage to speak to this tall lady at an MUN conferences years ago. But your vision for the future of MUN, which you’ve laid out for me on Whatsapp at 2am, tells me that we are only going to be working so much more together from now on.
And to you all I say have the “audacity of hope”, as Barak Obama said, because you can’t understand the preciousness of hope, the pricelessness of hope until hope doesn’t come. But hope only takes you so far. If we, our generation, want to create this new world, we have to be on the table and not on the menu where others dictate what our future is to be. Dare to dream bigger in the face of adversity. Dare to dream, because now more than ever, we need to pave the way for humanity to fly.
By Sarah Asiedu, Qatar Foundation International and QLC Presenter
Hi! My name is Sarah Asiedu and I am so proud and grateful to be able to say that I participated in the Yallah Commit to Action program which gave me the special opportunity to discuss my passion in two great leadership conferences. To this day,, I still remember when my Arabic teacher first talked about the program. As she was describing the program, I could was think about was my project on education inequality. I did not expect to make the program, but of course I still applied anyways. After I received my acceptance, I was so happy and could not wait to finally be trained as a future leader.
Throughout the several weeks in the Yallah Commit to Action program, I was taught on how to properly make an effective project which would focus on my chosen community. Through this process, I was able to form a group with people who shared the same passion as me! With the help of our lovely mentor, Jennifer, we established a project and were selected to go to Disneyland and present at the NYLC youth leadership conference. In this moment, I was proud of myself because not only did I speak in front of a big audience but I was able to make my point on how countless children in West Africa are deprived of a proper education – an issue that can prolong the poverty cycle and prevent economic growth. Little did I know that I would get an even bigger opportunity in October to present at the THIMUN Qatar leadership conference. As a person who was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, this was a big deal. Going to this conference meant that I could reconnect with friends and spread my message internationally. Although I was hesitant at first, accepting the offer to go to Qatar was a decision that will forever impact my life.
As a leader, it is important to be accustomed to different cultures around the world and that is exactly what I did. I am forever grateful to experience the culture and beauty Qatar offers. In addition, the conference allowed me to interact with other leaders who have done bigger things. I attended several sessions that varied in topics such as Model UN to the humanitarian crisis in Somalia. I enjoyed my time at the conference because it made me well rounded in learning different topics and issues around the world I would have never thought or imagined were going on. Not only did I get to meet new people I was able to form close relationships with others who would have a tremendous impact on me. Going to the conference only inspired me to do more; it constantly reminded me that as a leader, there is so much for me to do, so many more people to meet, and most importantly, so many more to help. Overall I loved my presentation with my peers in Qatar. We worked so hard and for us to spread our passion internationally meant so much. The audience was so intrigued we knew we wanted to push further. Going to the Qatar Leadership Conference was a spark for me and only motivated me to go further. In the future, I hope to expand my project and ideas to make it more effective. I also hope to (and will) reconnect with my Qatari peers to present in more conferences. This is only the beginning for me.
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,
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:
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
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!
The Model United Nations community is an army of untapped foot soldiers, an enormous community of delegates who care deeply about the role of the UN in the world and the mandates it is tasked with carrying out. The MUN community is, however, a diverse one, with regional, procedural and institutional cultural identities that limits interaction between programs.
One thing many MUN programs do care about, no matter their operating procedures or conference structure, is IMPACT: promoting and working to make Model UN impactful for its participants. Impact can be personal, at the delegate level and leading to more informed, more skilled and more committed global citizens, or more outward focused, where MUN becomes a driver for community engagement and a commitment to promote and help the UN do its job. This external focus of IMPACT has many different looks, from a conference measuring food waste and getting participants to change their habits, to a group of MUN delegates who start an NGO in Afghanistan to teach Model UN, women’s empowerment and leadership. MUN programs have been impactful for a long time. MUN Impact, as a community and movement, aims to focus attention on these practices, and to act as a call to arms for all MUN programs to use their communities to put IMPACT at the center of what they do.
To this end, a group of MUN delegates, directors, and thought leaders, through meetings at the Qatar Leadership Conference, have conceptualized this new community around IMPACT. With your help, we aim to create the following:
Community: Through our presence on social media, we will rally around #MUNimpact, to share stories of the impactfulness of our programs, and to move a conversation on how impact might help unite us in support of UN mandates and goals, particularly the Sustainable Development Goals. Anyone can jump in, initiate, share or join a conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn.
Resource Hub: Through a website ( currently in the planning stages), an MUN Impact blog and website will give us a platform to share stories, and to act as a repository for resources to be shared with others. If your MUN club ran a great service project, you can share that idea so that others might adopt it? If you were inspired to start a Peace Center, tell us how that happened? If you made a commitment that your conference would reach out to under-served students to get them involved in MUN, how did you do it? A resource hub can be a home of MUN initiatives with the hope of sharing our best practices.
UN Gateway: Even though MUN delegates and organizers think or hope they are doing the work of the UN, they often aren’t. Even with good intentions, finding resources, or staying true to what the UN is doing can be challenging. Often UN resources are hard to find, or packaged in a way that make them inaccessible to the general public. The MUN community would also like the UN to know what IT is doing, and to engage in a dialogue so that this army of delegates can mobilize to support the United Nations, particularly in advancing progress around the SDGs. In the months ahead we hope find that entry point, the place where that dialogue and exchange can take place.
Face 2 Face Impact: We need to find ways to come together around IMPACT. Setting our different procedural rules and MUN cultures aside, we need to find places, events and programs where we can work together, to talk about MUN, but most importantly, to make IMPACT. In the months ahead, we will begin to figure out this important piece of the puzzle. It will be an exciting one!
Right now we are starting where all movements need to start-at the beginning. We invite you to join us and others who are already doing great things and using Model UN to make a real difference in people’s lives. Follow us on social media, use the hashtag #MUNimpact, and sign up here if you’d like to help us in growing this movement.
Carried forward by the positive momentum of #QLC17, two dozen MUN thought leaders, educators and representatives from the United Nations met at Qatar Foundation’s Headquarters to discuss best practices around the idea of Model UN as an impactful and engaging activity, and to formulate a plan that would allow for a new community to develop around that IMPACT. Lively discussions emerged as participants grappled with how to define impact as evidenced through MUN engagement. It was also an opportunity discuss related topics that often become part of larger discussions around MUN: is it elitist, can it be made inclusive, and is there a way to bring different types of MUN under one community and find areas of commonality instead of focusing on differences.
In addition to thought provoking discussion, participants were treated to a visit to HQ’s 8th floor viewing platform, providing some incredible views of Education City and some pretty awesome photo ops. Qatar Foundation’s impressive and inspiring Headquarters, designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, was a fitting venue to bring together such a distinguished cohort of MUN leaders, pushing new boundaries and conceptualizing a new direction for MUN engagement and impact on a global scale.
An Interview with THIMUN co-chair Alain Meidinger Interviewer: Rayan El Amine
Alan Meidinger is currently acting as the co-chair in THIMUN Foundation. His passion and consistent participation in conferences around the world have put him in quite the unique position. His perspective into a conference such as QLC may be unmatched. Speaking on his role in THIMUN Foundation, as well as some moments from QLC that resonate with him, he is providing incredible insight into this conference.
Could you tell us a little about your experience in the THIMUN foundation?
I joined the THIMUN Foundation in 2004. I was at the time, and still today the only History and Geography teacher of the Board. My fellow colleagues are more linguist teachers. Almost every year I propose to the Board the theme of the conference to come, theme rephrase by my native speaker colleagues.
I am in charge also of the Tuesday Cinema Evening during THIMUN The Hague. With the help of Irene Crépin, THIMUN managing director, we look for a film or a documentary relevant to the film.
Furthermore, and following my 2nd visit to Doha during the Film Festival, I proposed to the Board 3 years ago to start in The Hague a World Photo Exhibition and Photo contest.. 2018 will be the 3rd exhibition.
Last but not least. I organise workshops on MUN. I went to Singapore in 2005 and 2006, Montevideo in 2015 to promote amongst teachers all the benefits of MUN and THIMUN. QLCs 2016 and 2017 are new workshops for the French committees.
You’ve been a part of QLC for a few years now, how do you think it has changed?
QLC ’17 will be my 3rd participation. QLC has moved from the Qatar Academy where I went the first time to the National Conference Centre. This move have made the conference already very professional to a landmark in the history of the THIMUN Foundation. It attracts people from all over the world, sharing their experience. It is also a vast network of students, teachers and professors alike. Thanks to Cameron Jansen then Lisa Martin, QLC has been shaping the Middle East leaders of tomorrow.
What do you think is the value of MUN in multiple languages?
The United Nations has 6 official languages [Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish]. It is more than obvious to me that MUN conferences in these different languages must be promoted. I am French and try to promote in Europe, Africa and in Qatar French MUNs.
2018 will the 14th session of our French MUN called Modèle francophone des Nations unies in The Hague. Since its creation in 2004, MFNU has supported the creation of other conferences especially in Egypt, France, Morocco, Turkey. I organised workshops in Casablanca and Istanbul. I am in contact with French Politic Sciences University in Menton, next to Nice, where a multilangual conference is organised every year at the end of March [Arabic, English and French]. Our MFNU attracts now schools coming from Belgium, Bulgaria, Benin, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Luxemburg, Niger, Nigeria, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, UK.
If I come to Qatar is because there is strong demand of French MUN in the region. With the support of Lisa Martin and Samia Zakaria from Lycée Bonaparte in Doha, we have launched last year the first French Committee. At TQ’18 there will be 2 and they are fully booked.
All in all, MUN conferences in multiple languages allow more students to participate in this activity because we tear down the language barrier. MUN is a strong and powerful member of the Civil Society, the more members, the better the world will be govern in the future.
Are you looking forward to anything in particular this QLC?
I am always looking forward to meeting new people, presenting other views, other perspectives. I might not be always in agreement but it is important to listen to others in order to better understand the world we live in, and selfishly to better understand who I am.
I am also looking forward to seeing friends coming from other parts of the world to share views, projects.
What excites you about coming to Doha?
Next to QLC’17 I love modern architecture, museums… I haven’t seen yet MATHAF and I know that I will need to come back to Doha to visit the National Museum realised by French architect Jean Nouvel.
Malak Elmoh is an International Politics major at Georgetown University, passionate human rights activist and Qatar International School graduate. This experienced QLC presenter has always been enthusiastic about advocating for human rights; she has served as her school’s MUN Deputy Secretary General and has diligently volunteered in multiple organisations. After the success of her workshop ‘Women in Arab Societies: An Unconventional Standpoint’ at QLC last year, she returns with her guide to university preparations, created specifically for students worried about the process: ‘The Virtual Handbook to Preparing for University’.
Are there any essential skills you picked up during your involvement with your school’s MUN? How have they helped you over the years?
Yes, there are quite a few actually! After years of being both a delegate and a chair, I saw such a sharp turn in my character altogether. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve definitely always been a pretty outgoing, talkative person. However, it’s the maturity and clarity that I began to speak with that I owe to my involvement in MUN. It’s experiences like this which mould you into a member of a society who can actually CONTRIBUTE. The ability to outspokenly deliver a point to the table, whatever the situation, I see as one of the greatest strengths one could have. This, henceforth, aids in being a person who can easily adapt to different situations. Having taught and worked one-on-one with the students who were involved in my school’s MUN club, I also amplified not only my communication skills, but my leadership skills too. It’s these skills which have ultimately helped me obtain all the different opportunities I’ve encountered in my life.
Your workshop this year is titled ‘The Virtual Handbook to Preparing for University’. What are some of the difficulties you faced while applying for university and how did you combat them?
You’ll have to attend my workshop to hear the full story! I can, however, give you a few sneak peaks. I think the biggest struggle was definitely ‘attempting’ to juggle my academics, social life, health, extra-curricular activities, the applications themselves etc. But luckily for other students, my workshop is going to provide some tips on how to combat this!
What was it like stepping into university for the first time after all your efforts?
It definitely felt surreal to finally embark on a journey that I had been working tirelessly towards for years! Orientation week felt like a blur, honestly. It’s one thing to get a university acceptance, but it’s another to actually, finally, attend. I have no shame in saying that I was, and still am, so proud of myself for having made it this far. It also lifted the massive, MASSIVE weight of whether or not I’d have somewhat of a future, off of my chest too.
Was choosing your major difficult? What sparked your interest in International Politics?
It’s a well known fact that I’ve ventured and showed interest in every field throughout the entirety of my high school career. Therefore, I wouldn’t necessarily say it was difficult, just that it was quite a prolonged journey. However, what primarily sparked my interest in International Politics was my unshakable passion for current affairs and ever-changing world of politics. We live in a time where access to the world’s happenings is at our fingertips, and by indulging in a degree which widened my opportunities of being more engaged and aware of the world and its happenings, I have developed an even stronger passion for this field.
What made you want to come back to QLC after your first workshop?
I absolutely adore QLC and the concept of it. It was undoubtedly my favorite conference of my high school years. After all of the positive feedback after my first workshop, I knew that I had to undergo the experience once again. It’s great to work one-on-one with students and to hear some of their amazing ideas and opinions and LEARN from them too! I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity of attending the conference even though I’ve left high school, so here I am!
Finally, what drives your passion for women’s rights?
Although, I am lucky and blessed enough to have access to so many wonderful opportunities, like my education, I know this isn’t necessarily the case for a lot of other women. I feel for all the women in this world who are put at a disadvantage just because of their gender. Nobody, no matter who they are and what category they fall under, should be deprived of their basic human rights. The debate can rage on for as long as it wants, but at the end of the day, women’s rights are basic human rights. The confusion towards this notion is what ultimately motivates me to keep vocalizing this necessity for all women to have access to these rights.
Interview with Sean Robinson Interviewer: Oroni Hasan
Sean Robinson is an educator who has been involved in many motivating global projects and organizations. Creator of Connections-based Learning and co-founder of Connected Learning Partnerships, he has connected with educators around the world to advance technology and teaching in order to make the education system more meaningful. This year at the QLC, Sean Robinson will present “SDGs and You,” which will be about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and how every one of us can help achieve their goals. His conference will teach us how to make a difference by collaborating with other people to abolish poverty, establish equality, and promote peace.
What inspired you to achieve your goals and passions?
Years ago, I went to an international educational technology conference with many questions. The questions were around apps, technological platforms, and ideas to incorporate technology in my teaching. Though the conference had many workshops with many answers, I was more taken with the conference attendees. Connecting with amazing educators from across the planet opened my eyes to new questions. They weren’t around good technology but meaningful teaching. I went back to my school and began a pursuit of meaningfulness, allowing my students to be involved in meaningful projects, giving up control, allowing for reflection, autonomy, and collaboration. When I did that, I saw two kinds of projects occurring: insular self-serving ones and connected other-serving ones. I have devoted my life to facilitating the latter.
What accomplishments or projects have you done in the past that relate to your interests?
Creating an approach to teaching that is based on connections is my life work. I’m just finishing a book on Connections-based Learning that outlines the approach and gives many examples as to how teachers can use CBL to increase meaningfulness in their teaching, which has caused me to take action on many initiatives. Whether it’s co-founding widespread platforms to help teachers connect in Connected Learning Partnerships or creating an atmosphere in my classroom to help students battle light property or water scarcity, I continue to press into the approach and help others to do the same.
How has presenting at the QLC or any other conferences benefited you?
Conferences, for me, are all about connecting with the people. The preparation for this conference has been amazing as I gather stories of students around the world working on the Sustainable Development Goals and connect with champions of gender equality. But more so, I count it a privilege to be able to meet with students and educators from around the globe during the QLC. What a great opportunity to mutually benefit each other’s work!
What effect on the audience do you hope to achieve after presenting at the QLC??
My desire is that my presentations inspire my attendees to make a difference. Whether it is working alongside some of the initiatives I share, creating their own initiative to help achieve the Global Goals, or making a change in lifestyle regarding gender equality, I hope to motivate my attendees to take further steps on the road to lasting change.
Why do you believe the topic you’re presenting is so important? Why does the audience need to know about your topic?
My topic causes us to look at the fundamental need of humanity. As the UN gathered both in 2000 and 2015, they agreed on what we really need to focus: goals that better the globe. As I share stories of people like you and me making a difference on the Sustainable Development Goals around the world, we can be inspired to help them and to do the same. Be prepared: I will beckon my attendees to take action.