We are a group of families living in Qatar and learning at home who come together to celebrate our diverse world.

My MUN Journey

By Reem Gawish

I started my Model United Nations (MUN) journey almost four years ago, at the beginning of ninth grade. While I quite liked the concept of the activity, I mostly joined because my older brother was doing it. Despite this though, I continued with MUN, even after my brother graduated and am currently serving as the student director for the Doha Home Educator’s (DHE’s) MUN delegation.

The high school MUN group pictured in early 2018. Ms. Margaret Douglass, the DHE’s first MUN director, sits in the front, and Sandev Ferdinando, one of our mentors from Park House English School, is on the far right.

I began MUN with little to no expectations about it and I didn’t think I’d stick with it for quite so long. But by the end of my first year I knew that I loved it. It was not only an outlet for my argumentative streak that my family has long complained about but was also an extremely educational experience as well – one that has given me opportunities I never would’ve had if I hadn’t tried to copy my brother.

My first conference was at Park House English School. Christopher Nasrawi, a student at Park House, was one of the people who approached the DHE about starting a delegation and we were lucky enough to be invited to the school’s first MUN conference. We represented Germany and I sat in the Human Rights Commission, watching more experienced delegates than I take the floor and make points that I didn’t believe I’d be able to think up even in my wildest dreams. My first conference went by in a blur and I only spoke once after the chair – the moderator of the debate – called up delegates who hadn’t spoken. I remember my hands sweating and my voice shaking as I spoke in favor of a resolution about prison reform and I also remember my elation afterwards when I realized I had done the thing I was so afraid to do.

My second conference was the DHE’s first THIMUN and we represented Ethiopia. I sat in the Human Rights Commission again, debating topics such as how we can provide education to disabled children throughout the world. Our delegation spent a lot of time preparing for THIMUN; we researched everything we could get our hands on. Some delegates attended a talk about Ethiopian history and before the conference we headed to an Ethiopian restaurant to both get a better feel of the culture and also to reward ourselves for how far we’d come since our first conference.

Since then my MUN journey has taken me much farther than a single speech in front of a room of no more than thirty other delegates, or than the small Ethiopian restaurant standing at a street corner. I’ve been extremely lucky to have been able to serve as a chair at MSMUN, PHESMUN and THIMUN. However, in addition to these amazing experiences, in February of 2018, I had the opportunity to attend the Winter Youth Assembly at the United Nations headquarters in New York. At the time I was only 16 and surrounded by some of the most amazing people I had ever met who were doing extremely influential work in their communities.

The chairs of the Environmental Commission at THIMUN 2019. Reem Gawish is pictured on the left.

These amazing experiences I’ve had would not have been possible without the DHE’s MUN group; Ms. Margaret Douglass, our previous director, Ms. Shagufta Malik, our current director, and Malaak Abu-Hmaidan, our Head Delegate, have all helped me immensely throughout this journey. My accomplishments and our group’s accomplishments would not have been possible without them. I’m exceptionally grateful to everything they’ve taught me and helped me through and I will go through the rest of my life knowing how lucky I have been to have known these amazing people.

As my tenth and final conference before I graduate approaches, and I look back on everything that’s happened in these past four years, I think about everything I have learned. One of the most meaningful lesson was that if something scares you, most of the time, that’s all the more reason to do it. I’m still terrified of public speaking, as I was when I began MUN, though thankfully not as much, but I now know that I will never get over that fear if I don’t have the courage to put myself in the uncomfortable position of standing in front of people and speaking my mind. I have learned that the comfort zone is a boring place to stay. What will I gain if I never challenge myself? How can I become the person I want to be if I never advance from the person I am now? I’ve also learned the importance of civility. In a time when everyone is mad at everyone else and most news shows are just panels of people yelling at each other for a few hours, civility is more important than ever. Often we let anger overpower all other emotions and while debating in the Human Rights and Environmental Commissions about issues I hold very near to my heart, I’ve seen that anger will rarely get you anywhere. No one is willing to listen when everyone is yelling. Maybe it’s time to try something else.

Likely the most important lesson I learned, though, is that if you’ve ever thought about an issue and said to yourself, “Someone needs to do something about this”, you can be that someone. MUN teaches us that everyone of us, as global citizens, not only have a responsibility to be aware of what’s happening around us – especially now that it’s easier than ever to do so – but we also have a responsibility to do what we can to help others. Horace Mann once said, “Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves.” We’ve read the history books. We know that no society can be great unless we are willing to help those in it. If there is only one thing I can hope that people learn from MUN, it is this: if you are willing to learn, to open your mind and help others, then what is there to regret?

About the author:
Reem Gawish is a twelfth grade student with the DHE. She loves reading and writing and spends a lot of her time researching international news and events, especially as a DHE MUN participant. As the DHE MUN Student Director for the past two years, Miss Gawish and has not only led the DHE delegation but has also helped to train the DHE MUN High School and Middle School delegates along with Ms. Margaret Douglass, Ms. Shagufta Malik and Malaak Abu-Hmaidan. Miss Gawish is extremely passionate about addressing the climate change crisis and intends to pursue a career which will allow her to actively work towards solving the same.

Every now and again we come across a wonderful idea that we would like to try out. It may be a craft project or a recipe or a life hack or anything in-between. Recently someone pointed me to a blog post that I thought was an awesome way to teach the kids history. What is more, the same idea could be used in other areas of learning such as Science, Math, Social Studies, Art and Artists etc.

Now rather than re-creating the blog post, I’m leaving you with a link and a summary of the contents of that page.

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The Famous People Game
The idea is to make trading cards of famous people with their faces printed on one side of the card and relevant information about them and their work and reason for fame (or infamy) on the reverse. The game can be used in a myriad of ways including as par of a fun games day/night, a way to identify famous people and their work and also to have a wider social, cultural, scientific, geographic, historical etc discussion.

My additional suggestion: This game can also be used to teach, for example, countries of the world, interesting inventions, human evolution, art and artists etc.

What are your thoughts on this game? Is there something similar that you do or what would you do differently? Let me know in the comments below. I look forward to hearing from you.

Consider this: We took an excursion to the Singing Sand Dunes recently and had a massively good time making the dune “sing”. But the excursion was not all fun and games. Well it was, but it also had the intended effect on our young. There was wonderment and awe at the beauty and complexity of nature and after making a giggling assessment that the dunes “should be called the farting sand dunes” on account of the sound made during our trip, our young one then wondered what made the dunes “sing”.

Singing Sand Dunes, Qatar. Photo credit: Peter Dowley

It would have been easy to give the answer that we thought was right. But the path to growth and learning has always been forged through stoking curiosity. So rather than provide our young brood with answers, we did precisely that. After explaining that not all sand dunes sing, we asked the young ones to then try and think of what made the sand dunes sing and to do some research to find reliable material on the subject. The result – a greater appreciation for the world around us, an impromptu science lesson and an impending lesson on what constitutes a “reliable source”.

Our approach is a fairly common one among homeschoolers and we sometimes joke that the teaching and learning never stops.  Research advocates educators stimulating curiosity to increase motivation and academic achievement (Arnone, Marilyn and Grabowski, Barbara. Educational Technology Research and Development, 1992, Vol 1, Issue 1). And in Young Children (Nov 2010), Julia Torquati et al quote L. Chawla’s research that early childhood is a critical time to support children’s connections to the natural world because young children are naturally curious and there is so much to explore in nature. Captivating their interest and affection during early childhood nurtures positive dispositions toward nature that can last a lifetime.

It is precisely the convergence of achievement through motivation and the desire to connect with the wider world around us that prompted our trip. Whether one homeschools or sends one’s child to a traditional school or educates by another means, our goal remains the same – to provide our children with tools and a temperament to face life and the future. By stoking the fires of curiosity, we encourage our children to

  1. Dive deeper into topics.
  2. Encourage the discovery and invention process.
  3. Develop keen, critical minds that can process information well.
  4. Discover their passion and a sense of purpose and achievement.
  5. We also empower them will skills for life.
Curiosity taught the child. Photo credit: Henri

Stimulating your child’s curiosity is a multi-pronged strategy.

  1. Tell me why/how/when/where: If you are spending time encouraging your children to ask questions and find answers to those questions either by answering them or searching for answers, congratulations you are on the right track!
  2. Great explorers: Children possess a keen sense of observation. Stimulate an interest in the world around them. Encourage them to feel, sense, examine and experiment.
  3. Failure is ok: Edison is famously attributed with the cheerful quotation that instead of failing 10,000 times, he was simply successful in demonstrating the 10,000 ways in which a light bulb won’t work. He correctly viewed his failed attempts as learning stepping stones to the path of success. Children should also be given the permission to fail and learn from failure.
  4. Autonomy is everything: Encourage your child to work by himself or herself. It will boost the child’s confidence and also teach him or her to innovate. And failure will end up being part of the learning process.
  5. Encourage your child’s interests and present new ones. Children and adults shine when self-motivated and nothing motivates one more than necessity or one’s own interest in a subject. By exposing your child to other options, you child gets a sense of what he or she like and is good at.

Is there anything that you do to encourage your child’s curiosity? Comment below and let us know. We’d love to hear from you!

New Home Schoolers Meet-up

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Who: Families considering homeschooling, beginning homeschooling, and experienced in homeschooling…and everyone in-between
What: New and Prospective Homeschooling Family Meet-up; Bring your questions about homeschooling in Doha. We will try to answer them in an informal setting while the kids enjoy some outdoor play.
When: 11 a.m. on Saturday, 26 January
Where: Aspire Park…the playground near the pond. Look for the crowd, some  wearing our blue or white DHE t-shirts.
Why: Because those considering or beginning homeschooling have questions. We have all been there!
In the unlikely event of rain, please meet inside the food court of Villaggio on the seats nearest the skating rink entrance. Call or text 3301-9696 if you need help finding us.

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What a day! Our kids (and some parents) came to co-op dressed as favorite book characters. Students shared books and had fun guessing who the other characters were. Some were new. Others – well known. All were fun!20181105_092240

It was a delight to see how much students enjoy reading. This year Doha Home Educators has chosen “Read” as their yearbook theme. This co-op even was planned to coordinate with the theme. Judging by the smiles on everyone’s faces, it couldn’t have been a better choice. Go DHE!

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DI Champions Yet Again!

DHE once again are champions! In 2017, our first year of participation in the Destination Imagination program through Al Faisal Without Borders, DHE captured the gold in the tech challenge.

We’ve done it again! Our middle-level tech challengers, Team Amazers, won the gold for their level, while our middle level engineers snagged third in their division.

We are incredibly proud of our hard-working students, not only our competitive teams, but our Rising Stars, who showed tremendous growth.

Well done, DHE students!

Questions? Come Talk!

Although we’re all volunteers, DHE members are happy to answer questions on homeschooling and share our stories!

Join us for a coffee meet up  on Saturday, 9 September! We’ll be meeting at the IKEA cafe, Doha Festival City, at 9 AM.  See you there!

 

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Join us for coffee & chat!