By Nayana Celine Xavier, Global Classrooms DC Youth Intern for 2019-2020
Growing up, there was nothing I wanted to do more than sing. Unfortunately, I was not blessed with vocal cords that could produce the melodies I yearned for. Instead, my vocal cords were used to deliver speeches. I started public speaking at a young age and participated in local competitions.
Although I dreamed of standing under the spotlight and belting out songs, I soon realized that I could still be under the spotlight, but through different circumstances. When I entered middle school, I was all set to be part of my school’s debate team. We had debate team tryouts, and the first part of the selection process required a written persuasive essay on a given topic. I meticulously worked on my essay for weeks, editing and rewriting it. I was proud of my work. If my essay didn’t make it, I didn’t know what would!
The day results were announced, my shaky fingers opened up the email. To my surprise and confusion, I did not make the first cut. My heart dropped, and I felt every ounce of confidence in myself wither away. I couldn’t believe that I didn’t make the team! Up until that time, I had never truly experienced failure, and I hated the cold blanket of dread that surrounded me and supplanted my usual cheerful demeanor.
As I sat in anger and on the verge of tears, my friend consoled me and told me it wasn’t a big deal. She said that she was going to try out for Model UN, and that I should as well. It was during that moment of despair that I first heard the words “Model United Nations”.
Something about those words ignited a spark in me, a spark that had been let out by failure in not making the debate team. I decided to avenge my failures and tryout for the MUN team. Unbeknownst to me, as one door closed, a million others had opened. I tried out for MUN and I made it.
Fast forward to my first MUN conference, I strode into committee confidently, expecting to be the best in the room. I thought my past public speaking experiences would give me an upper hand in committee. I had never been so wrong. I was surrounded by incredible delegates that were able to deliver compelling speeches and propose well-rounded solutions. I was awe of those amazing delegates, and I realized I had greatly overestimated my abilities. That day, I learned about the power of humility. No matter how great I think I am, there will always be another person who is smarter, more experienced, and better at MUN. But I can strive to learn from that delegate and work to be the best delegate, person, and leader I possibly can.
The willingness and ability to accept and learn from others and one’s own mistakes is what pushes us forward. It is what separates a good delegate from the best delegate. Model United Nations has been an integral part of my education and teenage years, making me more aware and connected to a myriad of issues that face our world today.
After participating in a UNEP committee with the topic of discussion on electronic waste (e-waste), I realized that my community was not aware of the environmentally sound management of e- waste. I set up an e-waste drive and received an overwhelming response. Not only was my community able to properly dispose of their electronic waste, but they also became better informed on the issue and became aware of local e-waste disposal facilities.
My participation in one MUN conference resonated greater change in my community, and in myself. Awareness is the first step in addressing any issue, no matter how big or small it may be. MUN makes you aware, and it equips you with the knowledge to take action. MUN has also taught me how to effectively work with others. Several times during committee, you are met with backlash and little support for your solutions. It can be frustrating to have your work be completely disregarded. But you succeed when you’re able to direct that frustration into progress. Compromise is paramount in solving any problem, whether that be in MUN or in life. It requires us to see beyond our personal pursuits and work for a greater goal.
Most of all, MUN has shown me the path of perseverance. Every working paper that failed, every block that dismantled, and every award that was passed over has made me stronger. We have an incredible will, and the obstacles in our path serve to remind us of this will. I have learned to never give up and try till the very last second, for there is always a chance of success.
MUN has opened my eyes to the world, to others, and to myself. Model United Nations has forever changed my life. It transformed me as an individual, leading me to find victories within my greatest failures.