By Shane Hynes, Student, St Andrews, Dublin
Every year the THIMUN Qatar Peace and Service Award’ is given to a student deemed to have done outstanding humanitarian work in their community. MUN Directors attending the conference are asked to nominate one of their students for the award, and then the best student/delegate is unanimously chosen. It is presented at the closing ceremony of THIMUN Qatar. This year, 17-year-old Shreyas Rajesh, from the American Embassy School in New Delhi, received the award for the incredible work he has done in his school, but also in his country.
In his own words ‘The THIMUN Peace and Service Award is a recognition of community service work that students – and delegates – do to advance the goals of the United Nations. It recognizes that young people are capable of implementing change in a meaningful way, and I am incredibly grateful to be this year’s recipient.’
Shreyas initially got involved in community service with the schools MAD (Make a Difference) programme because he ‘felt a responsibility to give back’. He has spent the last three years doing volunteer work with the MAD Program teaching English and Social Studies concepts to slum children from a camp adjacent to AES. Many of these students have gone on to attend university. He has also written his own sophisticated curriculum to deliver the above education with such professionalism that it is going to be presented at the World Teaching Conference in Atlanta, Georgia under the title “Empowerment Can Create Genius” As well as that, he has volunteered with many NGOs such as Chirag, Mission Smile, Indian Head Injury Foundation. Interned with The Public Health Foundation of India for 6 weeks and is a Board Member of the Make-A-Difference Organization in AES. Described as a ‘humble, articulate, competent and socially aware student’ by his MUN Director Robert Givitch, Shreyas is a beacon of inspiration to all of those around him.
Shreyas was Deputy Chair of the First Human Rights Commission at THIMUN Qatar this year. He had no idea that he had been nominated for the prestigious award by his MUN Director, and was shocked to hear when Johann Bambino, Deputy Secretary General at THIMUN Qatar, mentioned the MAD Club in his speech before naming the 5th recipient of the Award.
‘I was very much in shock; going up I remember almost tripping on the stairs. I was just so excited and thrilled, but with all those people clapping and really bright lights, I was mostly just surprised and shocked. I had no idea I was going to win; it really took until the flight back home for it to kind of settle in.’
When asked about why he does Model United Nations, he said he ‘originally joined MUN for the same reasons that many middle schoolers do – to wear a fancy suit and travel to a new place. What made me really stay with the activity were the people I met and debates in which I participated.’ For him, MUN is all about ‘helping people become better public speakers, learning to recognize and accept different perspectives, and to work cooperatively while still ensuring their priorities as representatives of global countries are met.’
Out of all of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, Shreyas thinks Goal Number One is the most important; ‘No Poverty’. He believes a world without poverty is a world where everyone is entitled to their basic rights and can live comfortably. Shreyas also thinks Goal Number Three is crucial, Good Health and Wellbeing. Most of his work with the MAD Club is in this sphere and that it is one of the SDG’s that we all can help accomplish.
Shreyas has made a huge impact on the lives of the many impoverished children that he has taught, worked with and secured a future for. He hopes to become a doctor, and to continue the amazing work he has been doing. He is truly MAD (Making a Difference), and an SDG 4 champion!