MUN – Conference @ Cinnamon Lakeside

MUN was hard to follow through with. They changed the dates this year which crammed every practice debate and event into two months, and with very little preparation while juggling schoolwork at the same time, I had lacked any enthusiasm to sit down and focus on it. It also killed my confidence in speaking when I didnt have enough research, sometimes I couldn’t find the right time to speak up on an issue. The practice debates were helpful in understanding the core of what committee is concerned with as the Third Committee of the General Assembly,  dealing with Social, Humanitarian & Cultural Affairs and human rights issues: we looked at women’s empowerment; drug trafficking & the black market; and the  sex tourism industry. 

(PHOTOS © XTREAMYOUTH PHOTOGRAPHERS)

Nevertheless, MUN was a very interesting and important experience for me, in terms of researching and attempting public speaking. I prepared lengthily for the final conference for the big topic of: dissecting transitional justice and its implications with regards to social development. I learned a lot about this complex topic a lot through different reports and through the lens of my country which helped me improve my researching and synthesizing skills. I learned a lot from the way people spoke and it helped me understand how to approach a topic and how to talk on a subject in a diplomatic manner.

(PHOTOS © XTREAMYOUTH PHOTOGRAPHERS)

I think I will consider trying MUN next time as a delegate again, learning my mistakes in time management, or perhaps find some other way to expand my public speaking skills, maybe by assuming more leadership roles in the future. Although I still have many doubts about speaking in front of so many people, this was a huge step for me personally.

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iconic low quality selfies © Amasha’s iPhone

 

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Reflecting on Issues of Global Importance

(Wikimedia Commons)

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.

 

MUN – Workshop & Introductions

On Saturday, November 26th 2015, the MUN delegates were invited to go to an introductory workshop where we not only learned about procedure, but also details about how to be a successful and make an impression during conferences and about our specific committees. It prepared me well, especially as a new delegate with not a lot of experience.

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slides from the powerpoint presentation given by executive committee members

Lately we have also been practicing debate within our own MUN after school meets. We’ve been discussing ISIS and its implications on world security. It helps loads because we can apply the skills and advice that was given to us during the workshop. I’m looking forward to working and developing my speaking and researching in order to be prepared for the practice debate on December 12th.

 

Model United Nations (MUN) – UN Day

After approximately 3 weeks of planning, participants of MUN led classrooms as leaders,to teach students in secondary about the theme “Youth as a Global Citizen”. This preparation was all leading up to the day our school decided to celebrate UN Day on October 9th, 2015! In the 3-4 sessions of MUN before this date, we spent time brainstorming topics for classrooms that would be appropriate for the grade levels assigned. It was concluded that the topics were: impact of immigration (grades 6-7); racism (grades 8-10) and legalization of marijuana (grades 11-12). Thank you Luke and OSC’s photographer for the pictures!

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preparing to welcome special UN Day guests and speakers with garlands/leis

I worked in a team with Ariana to teach grades 8-10 about racism in one classroom for one and a half hours, but we collaborated with the other leaders who were teaching the same topic. Together we came up with a lesson plan. In the class, we planned and did talk about our own experiences and attempted to define racism, how people are affected on a larger scale, and in order to understand our roles as global citizens, how to avoid and combat racism.

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organizing the students into groups

I think we finally knew how difficult it was for these children to engage themselves and to actively comment on the different videos we showed. It took a lot of encouragement to start a deeper discussion about the topics above. When we gave them time to discuss, only a few of the older kids offered their opinion. The discussions were too open ended to engage people in 8th and 10th grade. It was hard to guide their discussion and help them plan skits when we gave them free choice to do whatever they want in that period. What helped was the guidance of the teachers who were in the room who gave us advice as teachers themselves. It was a good learning experience because I never tried to teach people before in that setting about the issue of racism. I was a little afraid to respond to their comments when it seemed like they did not get the point of the exercise, because it felt like I was dictating what they should think rather than guiding their thoughts. I think that hesitation was telling of my public speaking problem/confidence which I need to work on. 

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Overall, I think leading UN Day in those classrooms showed that I have some potential to successfully teach a big group of people about something, though I need to reconsider how they will respond and give them more guidance in order for it to be successful and for them to learn something.The students wrote responses about what they learned which was a good exercise to see if we had been able to teach them something new.  It was also a good way to begin MUN before practice debates, because it drove me to be a leader to the students and therefore speak with confidence whilst engaging in global issues.