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.
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.
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.