After returning from the winter break and beginning a new year, a reflection upon my activities from last semester are long overdue. In particular I’m going to reflect on issues of global importance that concern some of my activities:
In Model United Nations (MUN), I actively engage with these issues by listening and discussing during practice debates in the sessions at school. As a whole MUN is researching, speaking, and debating and drafting with resolutions about complex issues internationally. It is simulation of the UN which strives to solve and discuss issues from different nation’s perspectives. My first practice debate especially showed me so many stances on gender equality across the world. Sometimes in MUN I feel slightly useless, discussing and speaking on issues but not being able to directly take action. However, MUN is still incredibly important in my understanding of issues of global importance because it provides me with multiple viewpoints from countries all around the world and that understanding is a good way to take action and help me be already aware of why I do service and why we all do community service, or why we learn what we do in History class, or in other classes. I can’t speak as well as the other experienced MUNers, but I hope I can develop that skill more as it’s important, especially considering world leaders today; its important to speak up about an issue locally & globally.
Scuba diving with PADI also taught me certain issues related to the ocean that are of international concern. I learned a lot about environmental concerns in scuba diving, especially about global warming and ocean acidification and conserving marine wildlife. All the e-learning and even short bursts of information from our instructors reminded us of this concern. When we went diving it was made clear not to remove anything from the ocean back to shore, like coral; and our instructor even was able to remove garbage from the ocean in one of our dives. We were also taught certain safety measures and those are important skills to have. The course especially strengthened my knowledge about ocean acidification, pollution, the bleaching of coral reefs and importance of corals and the protection of marine wildlife. Knowing all this allowed me to become a responsible and eco-conscious scuba diver. Since I want to be able to dive in other places besides Sri Lanka, it is good to know the issues associated with scuba that affect other parts of the world as well.
Imprisonment is a huge issue globally. The treatment of prisoners across different countries varies and it is something that must be taken into account when considering the degrees of crimes and punishment. In my opinion, there is a huge stigma surrounding prison and prison culture worldwide. Through this service, I was able to see a different perspective, through the surroundings and my own experience. Outside of the Welikada Prison that we visit as a service group, there are murals of prisoners doing work and underneath it, it states “Prisoners are human beings”. When we drive up to the women’s ward, there are more murals of women nursing children. On a local scale through my service group, Prison Outreach, we were able to more thoroughly understand sensitivities associated with prison and reach out to the imprisoned women and even their children. In particular we heard a lot of interesting things about the prison and the likelihood of fights breaking out in the women’s ward, etc. These sort of stories molded a negative image in my mind of what the children had to face and made me a little nervous to go in the first place. However, getting a chance to see inside the prison and do small things for them like provide them with food, play with them and teach them, really changed my view of how I perceived prison to be. I joined this service initially for helping women reestablish themselves and restart their lives after prison, but interacting with the kids let me see that they were such bright, happy children who deserved more than the image of miserable kids stuck in a dreary prison. I personally never really thought I could get along with kids, especially ones 5 years and younger. Yet any opportunity we can give them to smile is always my favorite thing about this service.