Friday, August 10, 2018

Why MUN Matters: Connecting With My Peers

By Takhmina Nasimova 

Takhmina is a Summer 2018 Program Assistant for the UNA-NCA Global Classrooms DC program. She is an undergraduate student at the George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, with a concentration in International Economics and Minor in Russian Studies.

Many ask me what it is like to be part of the Model United Nations, I always reply, “the Model United Nations is the conference that everyone must participate in at least once in their lifetime. The Model United Nations Conference helps young students to develop essential skills to succeed in life as well as to become active citizens of their country.” 

I immigrated to the United States together with my family when I was fourteen, a dangerous age when everything catches my attention and interest. At this point of life, it is important to be surrounded with right people and stay away from all the wrong temptations. Luckily, one of the teachers at my high school has started an International Studies Club that caught my attention. Already, at age fourteen I was into politics and international affairs due to its influence on my family’s and mine life. 

Way before moving to the United States my family was forced to leave our home country Tajikistan due to Civil War and move to Uzbekistan. I spent most of my childhood and teenage years in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Political discussions would take place every family dinner since some of our relatives were still in Tajikistan. Questions like “How did international community react on the issue of Civil War in Tajikistan,” or “Who provided aid to Tajikistan…” would be asked constantly in our household and inspired me to become an advocate for human rights at the same time a representative of all people that are influenced by wars, natural disasters and epidemics. 

Back to my high school teacher, she did a great job of gathering all the students in an International Studies Club and introducing us with great activities such as the Model United Nations.  Some people say that the Model United Nations Conference is an unnecessary extracurricular activity that wastes students’ time.  However, I strongly disagree because I believe that the Model United Nations clubs and conferences help students to develop the skills that are often missed or replaced at public and private schools. For instance, during the club meetings, we would practice several skills and prepare for the conference. One of the most important skills that I learned during these club meetings are public speaking, negotiation and networking. It used to be extremely hard for me to participate in class discussions or accept others opinion on certain issues. But participating in different activities with my peers during the club meetings helped me to develop effective speaking, networking and negotiation skills.  

At my first conference, everything I learned during my club meetings helped me to network with different delegates, negotiate with nonnegotiable and stubborn delegates and be confidence to speak in front of the audience. Some may say that MUN is just a simulation of the UN committee and bodies; in my opinion, MUN is more than a simulation.  The Model United Nations is the whole new level of education that teaches young students about diplomacy and the importance of the international relations. In order to represent a country, students need to research and get to know the country’s policies, relations, priorities, and restrictions in the most accurate way. The Model United Nations was a first formal conference I attended. It was very intense but at the same time very effective in helping me to develop skills including leadership, teamwork, public speaking, negotiation, and writing.

After graduated from high school, I went to community college for my Associate Degree where with my professor’s help I was able to establish International Studies Club and even add the Model United Nations Conference at one of the political science course’s curriculum. In this course, we learned the international affairs concepts from textbooks but practiced the skills through participating at the International Model United Nations. I was assigned as the head of delegation because of my excellency in leadership and networking that I was trained in previous years of participation at the MUN Conferences. During the international conference, my delegation and I have met many different students from all over the world who were passionate about internal affairs of their countries and international affairs. By the end of the conference, my delegation was awarded distinguished delegates. 

I am thankful for my high school teacher for introducing me to such life changing conference -- MUN. Today, I feel honored to be part of the UNA-NCA GCDC as Program Assistant and work on designing and improving the curriculum for the middle and high school students. 

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