As Samantha Millar, a previous humanitarian officer at UNICEF, once said as the keynote at a local Model UN conference, “Model UN is worthwhile and life-changing. Dania Shaeeb, a grade 12 student at Burnaby Central Secondary School would agree. “Before I joined Model UN,…I was this insecure and unhappy person…Now 2 years later I found this amazing group of people who I truly love and care about [and] I have accomplished so much”.
Dania didn’t know much about MUN procedures or research at the beginning, and she was always very nervous speaking. Speed forward to today, and you will find Dania Shaeeb now the Head Delegate for the Burnaby School District Team at the Vancouver Model United Nations Conference from Friday, January 20th to Sunday, January 22nd.
In the Head Delegate role, she will arrive at the Hyatt Regency Hotel by 7am, prepared to greet her entire delegation and to explain the procedures for the weekend. She’s already taken care of a lot of the administrative details – reminders to students and setting up delegate meetings. And she is speaking up in practice sessions without hesitation. Then she will represent the United Kingdom in the NATO committee sessions for three very full days.
VMUN, if not one of the more prestigious conferences in Metro Vancouver, is definitely the largest, most well-known and very competitive. Over 1500 delegates will attend. Burnaby North Secondary, in addition to Burnaby Mountain Secondary, Byrne Creek Secondary, Burnaby Central Secondary, Alpha Secondary and Moscrop Secondary will all be represented at this year’s event.
It can be a grueling weekend, so it takes the dedication and commitment of every delegate to participate in a conference like VMUN. (Shout out to chaperones, as well!) Each participating student will have already written two position papers from the perspective of their assigned United Nations Member State on two different current globally relevant topics and spent hours practicing the art of MUN debate. The very first day begins at 7am with registration, and then opening ceremonies at 8am, almost a full two hours before their friends are in their classrooms back at school.
VMUN will be Dania’s third conference since school started in September, and she is not slowing down. Have you heard of ConnectMUN, NVMUN, PacificMUN and CAIMUN? She plans on attending five this year. She is one of many – literally thousands locally – who have been hooked on the Model UN concept – the knowledge and friendships gained being prominent. Congratulations to all of those Burnaby students who have prepared for the upcoming challenges at the VMUN conference – your efforts will pay off in the long-run!