Sometimes you just have to take a leap. A leap of faith. A leap to determine the future. Sameer Esmail, a Burnaby student, did just that when he first registered for the largest 3-day Model UN Conference offered locally. The result? Valuable insights into pressing global issues. A new community of friendships. An aspiration towards politics and international studies. And fast-forward to the most recent attended conference, a second award, “Outstanding Delegate”.
Between February 24-26, 2017, the Burnaby student delegation from the District United Nations Connections Club attended the newest Model UN competition in Metro Vancouver: PacificMUN. Amongst other things, the conference offered smaller committees but lots of choice and a commitment to the social aspect of delegating – with a swanky catered evening gathering on the rotating level offering views of Vancouver. All for a price cheaper than any of the other previous events – which is important when considering that some students attend three or more events a year, and normally, their family is paying – though some student assistance is available at conferences.
Sameer was one of the Burnaby delegates at PacificMUN. His committee was the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. He explains that this committee, in the real-world, acts as the collective voice of the Muslim world on a vast range of issues that face Islamic nations. Today, most people are aware of the current relevance of these issues. The topics did not disappoint and brought broad implications of history, politics and diplomacy directly forward to the students. Sameer debated two topics: overcoming the Sunni-Shia split and the Arab-Israeli Conflict.
Burnaby has a growing contingent of students interested in attending Model UN conferences. With a more intense focus on MUN debate, the district club attracts students who want to learn the rules of procedure, practice the UN-styled discussion, and be exposed to global issues. The club offers MUN training, student executive leadership roles, and chaperoned-field trips to conferences. There are clubs that operate at some of the schools, depending on student expertise available there, and Burnaby North, Burnaby South and Burnaby Mountain Secondary Schools boast MUN clubs for students at the moment.
Sameer believes that his school and the district club, provide valuable insight and practice that enable him to keep his level of debate high at conferences. He already works with student advocacy groups and is the president of the Burnaby Democracy and Politics club both which spark his passion for MUN debate and have helped shape what he describes as his progressive view on politics.
What does Sameer want other students to know about MUN? “Model UN is one of the most beneficial experiences you will ever have in your lifetime… I know from experience that the barriers and nerves simply fade away after the first speech, and you enter a world that is complex, challenging, and lots of fun.”
Congratulations to Sameer for taking the leap into this world of MUN, a parallel world of diplomacy, foreign policy and solutions, one that he is certain will, help to “better global society and make sure that every person’s rights are valued and protected”. Kudos also to his sources of inspiration including those who “advocate for social justice,…lead the world in diplomacy and cooperation,…[and] don’t remain silent when something isn’t right”.
And to all of our Burnaby delegates who have persevered with MUN, well done. Your extra efforts into research and understanding complex world issues will be satisfying and helpful to you individually, and to all citizens who are trying to keep the world on a peaceful and just path. Don’t forget that YOU are the United Nations – a citizen of each individual UN member state with a voice in your country’s foreign policy, if you decide to use it.