Thursday, April 6, 2017

Rome International Careers Festival: Where Past Lessons Informed New Challenges

By Nicole Bohannon, Global Classrooms DC (GCDC) Program Manager

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the Rome International Careers Festival and participated in their Rome Model United Nations simulation. Around 2,000 undergraduates, masters’ students, and young professionals took part in the programs, and came from every corner of the globe.

The entire festival consisted of four simultaneous programs: the Rome Business Game, the Rome Press Game, the Careers Seminar, and, of course, RomeMUN. I chose to represent Colombia in the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to discuss access to primary education and youth employment opportunities. I was even lucky enough to have an enthusiastic partner, Claudio, who had never done Model UN before, but ended up loving every minute of it!

For nine hours a day, for three and a half days, I worked with Claudio to use all the strategies I have helped weave into the Global Classrooms DC (GCDC) curriculum as an intern and as a Program Manager. I researched, wrote, made countless speeches, negotiated, and advocated what I believed would work the best to bring together an amazing coalition of people. There were low points in the conference when no one was listening or interested in collaboration. But then there were high points, like when I led the charge in merging two massive resolutions between the group I helped form and the opposing alliance.

By the end of the conference, we saw the unanimous passage of a resolution that included compromises on a wide variety of topics. We crafted ideas about adult educational programs and recommendations that supported vulnerable populations pursuing education at all levels, in addition to creating an expert investment consortium and an international teacher exchange program.

I was proud of what my partner, my colleagues, and I were able to accomplish. On top of it all, Claudio and I won the Best Delegation award, the top prize in Model UN!

The Rome MUN conference reminded me how many important Model UN skills I have developed since I first started in tenth grade at 15 years old. Back then, I couldn’t talk to a group of ten people, let alone a committee of over 200 people. What surprised me is that the same fears I had as a teenager still affect me. At this conference, I was nervous every time I stood up to make a speech, or approaching a hostile.

But what I learned over seven years of doing Model UN was how to overcome that fear and instead speak up or take that risk. I cared about the ideas and policies I was talking about, and I have learned how to not let fear stop me from doing what I think is right.

I hadn’t been to a conference in over two years before attending the Rome International Career Festival. But the lessons never faded away. Recognizing how much Model UN changed and challenged me meant far more than a Best Delegate award.

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