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TASMUN 2018 & The Sustainable Development Goals

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By: Si Yun Ee, Delegate at Taipei American School and MUN Impact Staff Writer

 

In April 2018, I had the honor of serving as TASMUN’s (Taipei American School Model United Nations) Secretary-General. The ninth annual TASMUN took on a very experiential, bold, and unique approach to Model United Nations (MUN) to say the least.

 

Unlike the conventional MUN conferences, where committees ranged from the usual few that were similar and topics were repeated from conference to conference; my Secretariat team and I worked hard to place a strong emphasis for the conference, on something we shared as a common passion - The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This year’s conference theme was MUN Impact. By having MUN Impact as the center of our conference, we hoped not only to shed light on the newly growing MUN Impact community and organization, but also to raise awareness regarding the purpose of a united community, passionate about global issues to solve the global goals (SDGs)  we have set before us. As such, each of our committees were named after a particular sustainable development goal that we found to be relatable to our participants or interesting and approachable to our general audience. Each committee, would therefore focus on topics related to that one goal and specialize in issues of that area.   

 

 

 

In addition, committee topics were inspired and sifted through Sustainable Development Goals targets and indicators, tweaked so that they were not overly complex or broad, but yet fresh and challenging enough for our conference participants. We hoped that by doing so, our participants would not only be more aware of the SDGs and their existence, but to gain a particular expertise or find an interest or passion in a particular SDG that may spur action, inspiration and impact.

 

Call it revolutionary, non conforming, different, unique or weird; a focus on the SDGs to such an extreme from committee names, or to specified topics. Over the two days of the conference, participants told us how much they enjoyed the specificity of topics they enjoyed, the knowledge they have grasped and gained expertise in; most importantly, an understanding of how much each SDG impacted our world. The SDGs were no longer just a far reaching foreign concept to them, it is now an action prompting question waiting to be solved.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Secretary-General for TASMUN IX, I hope to leave a message on behalf of my Secretariat team, to both our conference participants and MUN participants worldwide:

As we seek to evolve the culture of Model UN by assisting each other in understanding the value of action and activism especially in these tumultuous times, the focus of this year’s conference structure not only strives to promote impact through MUN, but also to evaluate and to take further consideration of the Sustainable Development Goals. In taking initiative to achieve the SDGs, the power of impact through MUN will be prominent - and that is what I hope we can all take away and share with those who have not seen what we, as a commu

nity is capable of changing. Let TASMUN IX be the first change, non conforming to the norms of what MUN may mean to you. Let yourself be the living and breathing impact of MUN, youths who contribute to our global community, and a team of activists capable of rousing change that we so desperately need.

 

 

History made at UNODC’s E4J MUN Workshop

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MUN conference managers, educators, academics and UN field officers gathered at the United Nations in Vienna this past May and held a series of conversations that had never before taken place. There was a palpable sense of history being made. We had been invited to participate in UNODC’s Education for Justice MUN workshop where we had the opportunity to get to know one another, look for ways we could support each other’s work, and most importantly, to figure out how to best educate MUN delegates on UNDOC mandates. With the help of the wonderful Best Delegate team, we spent three days in enriching conversations, both during the day, over lunch and breaks, and well into each evening.

 

E4J, with generous funding from the state of Qatar through the 2014 Crime Congress in Doha, decided that a powerful way to educate youth on UNODC mandates (many of them linked to SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) was through MUN. The E4J team validated the MUN community by asking for input, and going back to their drawing board a number of times in 2017 to refine and perfect a series of resources that would be used on a global scale. By bringing a cross section of participants to Vienna, field officers and UN officials began to appreciate the power of this enormous MUN network. And MUN programs gave serious thought to how to best guide research, discussions and debate around the things the UN wants all of us to be more knowledgeable about.

 

 

Yet for the uninitiated, most are surprised to know the degree to which the UN and the MUN Community have very rarely engaged one another. The United Nations and Model United Nations inhabit two different ecosystems. UN officials who run UN programs are specialists, technocrats in the best sense of the word. And educators and others who run MUN programs, whether those are big conferences or small MUN clubs, usually have a different set of goals and objectives. Often these do not overlap.  With no central organization setting rules and procedures, no one sanctioned method for choosing debate topics and finding resources to support delegate training and research, the MUN community begins to resemble a collection of nation states, each MUN program with its own rules and procedures, a favored approach to engaging with their followers, and at times fierce brand loyalty to their conference. And by and large, most have preferred it that way. Not surprisingly, in this environment Model UN programs hav had few, if any, opportunities to come together and discuss larger issues within their global community. Model United Nations has never been able to speak with one voice, because the conversation has been about differences and what sets us apart.

The E4J MUN workshop provided an opportunity to change that. Parking our differences at the door, the participants discussed ways that we could support one another. We needed to get to know one another, to understand the diversity and goals of the MUN community, and to realize that field offices had expertise to share but very real constraints in its time and resources. The UN learned that a good many Model UN practitioners want to support the UN and its work, and MUN practitioners learned that UN agencies and programs welcomed support in engaging a wide swath of civil society stakeholders. And in that sweet spot of convergence, an entirely new conversation emerged.

MUN Impact had a special role in this converging dialogue, because in reframing a much richer and wider conversation, we were able to address an important underlying tension within the MUN community. For all the personal impact that delegates experience through their MUN experience, that experience often ends when the gavel comes down at the closing ceremony. But many educators and conference organizers, and delegates themselves, often wish for more…more action, more relevance to their community, and a sense of service to support what they have learned through MUN. MUN Impact was able to share some ideas and resources and most importantly, stories of what action plus MUN, in the service of the real UN, might look like. To bring the stories of real MUN delegates doing real work to advance the UN’s agenda was validating, powerful and eye opening. It was a glimpse into what was possible, and hopefully cemented action and service via Model UN squarely into the center of this emerging global discussion.

We DID make history in Vienna, and in a small  but important way started a new conversation between the United Nations and Model UN community, long overdue, exciting, and filled with potential. Thank you to the E4J team for bringing us together and starting this valuable conversation. The fruits of this collaboration are beginning to show signs of taking hold. The 2018-19 MUN season is sure to be an exciting one.

    

 

Online Model UN now a part of MUN Impact

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With the start of a new year, there have been a few changes related to OMUN. As you can see from the logo, Online Model United Nations is now affiliated with MUN Impact. Through the magic of bylaws and the mysteries of rules governing non-profits, OMUN and MUN Impact have become one and the same….kind of. OMUN is still an independent program, but will operate under a larger MUN Impact umbrella. This allows OMUN to share debate opportunities with a larger MUN Impact community, and highlights for OMUN a key focus of researching and debating about the SDGs. It also is an example of student-driven initiative and the focus on MUN as an inclusive activity, and not one reserved only for students who have the money to attend conferences. It’s all about access and debate opportunity for all. OMUN and MUN Impact support and promote both!

The student executive team are working hard to develop an exciting debate schedule and International Affairs Dialogue opportunities. If you are interested in becoming part of the OMUN community, contact Kudzai Mukaratirwa at Kudzai Mukaratirwa <k.mukaratirwa@onlinemodelun.org>

Instilling a Health-Conscious Mind

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Yengkhom Hojai Naomi is a delegate and year 12 student at DPS-Modern Indian School, Doha-Qatar.

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I’m always on the pursuit of learning something new, which is why I joined MUN. I attended the MUN Impact Student Leaders summit which was held on the 14th of March. This summit and my own Model UN activity inspired me to hold a Free Diabetes Screening Camp in Silchar, a town of the Cachar district in the state of Assam, India.

I should mention that I have done MUN for quite some time, and this is the source of my inspiration. In March 2015, I attended my first ever MUN conference as the delegate of UK in Security Council, ODTC V at Doha College. As a delegate (MSMUN-Q 2015, THIMUN-Q 2016,2017), along with gaining knowledge, my diplomacy skills grew as well. DCMUN X (2017) is a conference that I’ll remember as the one where I, as an Advocate of Mexico in ICJ, along with my team, pushed myself to make the perfect reports and evidence packets. My experiences did indeed broaden my knowledge and horizons, which is why I was selected as Director MUN of the school student body of 2017-18 and 2018-19. I learned many a good thing from my experience as the deputy chair of GA6 (MSMUN-Q 2018) and I am currently a student officer for the Doha College Model United Nations XI.

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease caused by inherited and/or acquired deficiency in production of insulin by the pancreas, or by the ineffectiveness of the insulin produced. Type 2 diabetes is much more common and accounts for around 90% of all diabetes cases worldwide. It occurs most frequently in adults. Construction workers and families of daily wage earners are unaware of the complications that can arise from their lifestyle methods. Since SDG 3 GOOD HEALTH & WELL-BEING states to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages, I had held this camp to motivate them to become health conscious and make necessary changes in their lifestyle to lead a good healthy life.

 

Since it was my first time to hold a social service program, I started with a small group of 20 people who were between the ages varying from 25-90 years. During the first half of the day, their BMI (Body Mass Index) was taken as it is an important measurement to know for diabetes and weight management. RBS tests (Random Blood Sugar Level) were taken as well. Being a Biology Major student myself, during the second half of the day I had even taught them about the necessary actions they were to take to prevent diabetes, as currently the number of people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes is increasing at a staggering rate.

The people were taken a bit by surprise and were delighted to see a student holding a medical camp. A few of them, especially the elderly, invited me to their homes and asked me to visit them in the future. Seeing their appreciation and response, it gave me more confidence to continue and fulfil my dream of helping people with what I know and can do.

This was only the beginning, I started with a handful of people, but I plan to make it my lifelong project to hold such similar health awareness programs, voluntary works which’ll be expanded to neighbouring towns, villages and districts.

This experience enlightened me of the many things we can do with what we have learned from school and our own Model UN activity by putting our knowledge to use for helping and alleviating the world to a place where people can live healthily and lead a peaceful life.

HELA supports UNODC Mandates with biggest conference to date

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In August, Hope for Education and Leadership in Afghanistan (HELA) hosted their largest MUN conference to date. Over 400 delegates participated in a two day conference, focusing primarily on UNODC mandate topics. We caught up with Sulaiman Sulaimankhil, Co-Founder of HELA, to get an update on the conference.

(HELA was founded by MUN delegates, who created the first NGO in Afghanistan devoted entirely to promote Model UN in the country).

Why did you want to do UNODC mandate topics? 

Following the start of the valuable program of E4J MUN, we at HELA organization consider ourselves to be one of the only implementing partners of UNODC in the project of E4J. Therefore, we believe we should carry the responsibility of spreading the program in Afghanistan on our shoulders, through increasing awareness about the mandate topics of UNODC. But most importantly we believe these issues are really crucial and need to be discussed and debated by Afghan youth; our country suffers a lot due to existing challenges, many of which are covered by the mandate areas

What is HELA's goal as far as supporting UNODC?

HELA is transforming itself into a big national organization that will operate in all the provinces of Afghanistan, and through this transformation, we aim to continue supporting UNODC with spreading awareness about their mandate topics and about UNODC  itself. In the upcoming years we will be able to provide Model UN opportunities to most of the provinces in Afghanistan. It is our goal to continue selecting UNODC mandate topics for our upcoming conferences because HELA strongly believes in the importance of promoting the culture of lawfulness in Afghanistan.

Did you use the E4J MUN guide in any way? If so, what parts and why was it helpful? 

After returning back to Afghanistan from the E4J workshop in Vienna, we started training our team using the E4J MUN guide. It was helpful because it clearly describes the right way of doing Model UN, using the mandated topics, and forming committees in our conferences. There were links for supporting materials and documents. It's a very valuable resource for us.

  

 

What topics did you debate? 

So far we have debated the following topics in our conferences:

  • The question of Human Trafficking and addressing migrant smuggling across the Mediterranean.
  • Effective measures to protect the rights of smuggled migrants.
  • Reforming the criminal justice system and developing alternatives to imprisonment.
  • Improving access to education during times of conflict.

Did you try to contact the UNODC office and get them to send a speaker? 

We contacted the UNODC office to ask them to send a speaker to the conferences but despite several efforts, we did not manage to get their speaker to come to our conference. We definitely would love to have their support in future events!

What major things do you think the delegates learned about UNODC mandates? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since we mostly focused on the topics related to migrants, that is the number one thing they discussed and debated and they learned important things about their protection, rights and etc. But also, delegates learned new things such as crime prevention and alternatives to imprisonment and the rights of prisoners.

Do you have plans to debate UNODC mandates in the future? 

As mentioned in the beginning, we are planning to widen our activities throughout the country and we also bear in mind the idea of promoting the UNODC mandates, so yes we will have several conferences on the mentioned topics.

 

The Impact of Networking through MUN

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By Si Yun Ee, "UNF Shadow" and Student at Taipei American School

 

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Perhaps you may have came across my article (Being Inspired by Sharing the Impact of Model United Nations) last summer, about meeting the field leaders of social change, and adopting them as my mentors and source of guidance, that has helped me make in my community, and that of my own life. Last year, I wrote, “to my peers out there, don’t be afraid to search for opportunities”. More than ever now, I am strongly convinced of sticking with this belief having experienced the outcome of the power of networking within Model United Nations (MUN).

Many in and out of the MUN community have not necessarily seen the true value of the networking and socializing opportunities that the activity presents.

I am often asked the question, “why MUN?”

My answer will always be, “the people”.

It’s not about the benefits of meeting people who are so well connected, or the people who have tremendous expertise that I am so attracted to the community. In fact, the community is larger than life itself, brimming with stories, lessons, diverse backgrounds, and a myriad of soundly passionate people, who have voices, yearning to be heard by governments and to be recognized by organizations to make their own change.

Networking is not simply the act of adding someone on Snapchat or Facebook, neither is it a quick “hi” and “bye”, then crossing your fingers that the other party remembers you. I’ve learned that networking and socializing is indeed in part, what many of us think of as being a friendly person, and being bold in front of crowds or strangers. But above all, initiating and keeping in contact. There has never been rules that you must network and socialize to a huge crowd or to tens or hundreds of people at once. More likely than not, it is the one or two people who you spend the most time making meaningful conversations and listening to that will serve as a great source of support and guidance going forward. Because of the misguided notion that we must touch bases with so many, we often find ourselves stumbling through too many people, with overly casual remarks and interactions that both parties are likely not to retain.

But to the one or two people who we end up finding a great connection with, the opportunities that they extend to us are often not taken, with the thought of “he or she must not be serious” or “maybe he or she is just being nice”,  brushing off any golden offer that we could have so easily reached for to enrich our lives and our very own understanding and impact on the world.

My story of visiting the United Nations Foundation last year turned into a hustle and bustle of events for me this summer, starting with an extremely valuable opportunity to apply as high school intern at the United Nations Foundation (UNF). This would not have been possible had I not followed up with the people I was connected with (Ms. Rebecca Maxie), continuously staying in contact with her and her team through email. It was through a series of almost forty emails back and forth that in hindsight, I am so thankful that I persevered and stayed in contact long enough even though to there were times when wondered if I was sending too much, or sharing too much about the work that she has inspired me to do.

But this summer, it was clear to me that sharing any impact I was able to make through MUN and the community around me, and even writing about my experience, was definitely a joy for her, extending her own impact to future generations interested in her work to come.  Ms. Maxie shared that it was because of the initiative I had taken, in reaching out, staying connected and updating her about all the work that I did, which partially gave way to the possibility of even being at UNF for the summer experiencing what works were really brewing in an organization as big as UNF .

During my time at the United Nations Foundation, all the topics that the different campaigns covered, to the hottest topics on the front of the political scene, to the issues that plague our very communities are in their own way, related to a particular Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). For example, working most closely with the campaign Shot@Life at UNF this summer, I’ve found that they are mainly connected to SDG Goal 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing), but also connected to other SDGs like Goal 5 for gender equality, getting vaccinations to reach women and children in particular; which leads to Goal 1, with better healthcare, increasing chances of escaping poverty; that to, can also lead to Goal 11, by giving the less privileged a chance to leave the cycle of poverty, therefore reducing inequalities worldwide. Therefore, I plan to take back the SDGs that I care closely about, integrate them in the classroom discussions, establishing a platform for MUN Impact on campus to share my thoughts and experiences with my peers.

Of all the SDGs, there will be one that may resound most closely to you, and one that resounds closely with me. Find that SDG that strikes an interest in your heart, a motivates you to reach out and act for change through your own means, whether that be through ways such as scientific advancement, influential writing, convincing speeches or passionate volunteerism and advocacy.

All the SDGs are interconnected someway or the other, which makes both your interests and mine intertwined. We are all in this together, regardless of where you’re from or how far you can reach. But bonding together as a community of passionate MUNers, and connecting to the people who you can reach, can help extend your span of reach towards professionals in the field to better learn from one another, express our ideas, and combine our efforts for impact.  

As a senior in high school now, looking back, I would not have thought all of this possible when I continued on my journey as an MUNer during freshman year. I would not have thought that MUN would have led me to say, “I spent the summer before senior year in Washington D.C., observing and learning at the UN Foundation”, or that “I got to meet and work with one of the most passionate, hardworking, and excited team of change makers at the UN Foundation”. It’s truly amazing witnessing the power of MUN on our own lives, that empowers us to make change in lives of others.

To all my peers out there, step out. Don’t be afraid to break out of your bubble. Reach far, dream big. Have goals, be courageous in fulfilling them. You’ll never know who you meet and what you will land across. That’s how you’ll be able to make your own impact.

[caption id="attachment_3220" align="alignnone" width="300"] [Rooftop of UN foundation Office July 2018] Front (left to right): Gabriela Cristobal, Sarah Ristau, Si Yun Ee, Ines Renique Second row (left to right): Cara Ciullo, Rebecca Maxie, Martha Rebour, Brian Massa Back row (left to right): John Prendergast, Taylor Gates, Lindsey Miller-Voss[/caption]

Helping Combat Coral Destruction at the International School of Curacao

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By Vanshika Rohera, ISC Dive Club President

 

The International School in Curacao, on a small Caribbean Island that used to be a part of the Netherlands Antilleans, is the only school on the island with an MUN club. In the past decade ISC students have participated in two international conferences in Panama (PANAMUN), and in the Hague (THIMUN). Besides attending these international conferences with small delegations of 10 people, the school has been organizing annual conferences for local students who are eager to learn and grow through MUN.

Being an International School, there is a UN celebration day every October. On this day families come together to celebrate the various cultures that comprise the students of the International School of Curacao. There are groups of students on campus that participate in different clubs and have used the information acquired in MUN to make an impact throughout the school. In 2017 a group of students who were in the MUN club as well as the National Honor Society decided to spend an entire month informing fellow students around campus of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The talk of the SDGs started to influence certain students to join the school’s new Dive Club. The ISC Dive Club is dedicated to helping life underwater (SDG14). Every month students gather to go down to work in the local coral nursery

developed with support from  the Coral Restoration Foundation (https://coralrestoration.org/.) At the nursery, small fragments of coral are kept clean and free of algae until they are big enough to be placed in different locations around the island to flourish into coral reefs.

The impact of this Dive Club has attracted the interests of many students around campus because they have started to value the ocean and the marine life that surrounds them. Through the Coral Restoration Foundation students have learned to give back to their environment.

“As a student I am proud to be a part of the Dive Club because we are working together to save the coral reefs that we find so beautiful when we go for dives. These coral reefs are the reason our island has its white sandy beaches, and we should be helping save them, rather than contributing to factors that destroy them. Together as one school, we work towards one mission, to help save coral reefs.”

 

 

SHE Club to support the SDGs

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By Ella Sobhani, MUN Delegate at Canyon Crest Academy, San Diego

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I started SHE Club at my high school to try and promote a different view of pulling communities out of poverty, which is the education of young women.  The participants of my club share the priority to: serve others in the community and beyond, embrace diversity in the sense of age, race and gender, and promote the importance of equality and education for all.   Our club initiative is to work towards alleviating global poverty and to support community-led transformation such that no child ever goes to bed hungry, or is lost to preventable diseases, or is deprived of gift of education for lack of resources.  We believe that the keys to alleviating poverty are universal education, gender equality, and community building. In this sense, our initiative highly aligns with SDGs 1, 4, & 5.

The activities my club participates in include fundraising events in which the funds raised go primarily to The Mona Foundation which provides education to all children, increasing opportunities for women and girls, and emphasizing service to the community.  We are looking to expand into more hands-on service opportunities like tutoring refugee girls in our area.

I link this to my own Model UN activity by learning about the world and its international relations within the conferences, and using this knowledge to fuel what cause SHE Club will support and work to help.  MUN was a big part in informing my decision to start a humanitarian club because as I began to learn about the world’s issues, it inspired me to take direct action to help solve them.

My hope for this club is that our members leave with a sense of making a change in our world.  I’d also like to see the topic of women’s education come up more when brainstorming ways to alleviate poverty because women are the most influential aspects of the communities, they are the ones raising the upcoming generation.

 

SDG1: Helping to End Poverty by Colegio Ayalde

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By the Colegio Ayalde MUN Club

Colegio Ayalde is located near Bilbao in the Basque Country, Spain. The students have been participating in MUN conferences since 2014 and organised their first  conference, MUN Bilbao, in January 2017. The MUN activity here at Ayalde has grown from an original five students to over seventy participating now.

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It all started about two months ago, when our teacher talked to us about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She challenged us to come up with a cooperative way to help on the achievement of these targets.

Extremely good projects were raised from the brainstorming we made the next day. After meticulously evaluating the pros and cons of each idea, we all agreed that a school-wide collection of different products would be the most effective idea. This collection would undoubtedly be a helpful method to help achieving the 1st Goal, “End Poverty”.

The UN has published different ways in which this target could be reached. Most of them had to do with policies and politics, but some others - such as distributing products among people in need - was manageable for us, an enthusiastic group of teenagers.

No sooner said than done, we got to the job in hand and started giving speeches about the project around the school. In order to make our presentations understandable for all, we had to adapt them to the students’ age. We divided into pairs and explained to the whole school what the SDGs were and how we were going to help the UN. We were glad to see that all the students were enthusiastic about it!

The idea was to assign each grade with a different product. The smallest ones, for example, had to bring all types of books or toys. Girls aged 9 to 12 were asked to collects clothes, while the oldest students brought in school material. In the end, we got to fill 5 vans, and took the goods to Cáritas (a Spanish organization who distributes these among needy families).

All in all, this project has made us feel useful and even necessary for the achievement of the Goals. We also learnt a lot about managing big projects, which is an undeniably essential life-skill. We’re very thankful to our teachers and the other students, who gave their all to make the most of our project. We are all now eager to launch a brand new campaign for the SDGs!

 

 

 

 

Distant elites, the Goals, and the future of MUN

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By Lisa Martin

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In March, I found my way to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I came on a mission-to find an emerging MUN Club to collaborate with and bring to THIMUN Qatar 2019. Lebawi Academy's new MUN program had huge aspirations, and I wanted to meet the MUN Director and their students. The Lebawi Academy MUN Club did not disappoint, and I was treated to a spectacular day, meeting some incredible students, teachers and school administrators. By the time I left I knew I had located the perfect school with which to collaborate, and I will leave it to the Lebawi and Qatar Academy Doha students to share their stories as their emerging collaboration develops.

I spent the morning visiting different clubs at the school: meeting with the student government, the girl's empowerment club, the girls who code.  The morning was filled with incredibly engaged students sharing their projects and stories, and by lunch I was already overwhelmed by the positive energy. It was a day of many superlatives, from the excellent tour of the school to the amazing lunch, and a visit to the school's small special needs classroom, but there was one interaction with students left a profound impact on me, and has informed some of my thinking on MUN Impact moving forward.

Gathered in a small classroom, I listened to this articulate group of young women explain project after project they were working on. From maternal health and FGM to access to higher education and technology innovation projects they were working on. I began to see a pattern...each of the projects they were describing were related to an SDG, and in almost all cases, a specific target. I finally stopped the conversation and said  "Do you REALIZE that what you are doing, all of these programs, are supporting the SDGs?" And after some silence I asked "How many of you know what the SDGs are?" A few tentative hands were raised, but generally speaking, this was a term that had little currency with the group.

I went on to explain that quite unknowingly, they were part of a huge global movement, an international commitment by the United Nations to address multiple complex issues that underpin sustainable development. Did they know they were part of something that was actually a massive global undertaking? They had not, they told me, but a current of energy pulsed through that room in what teachers know to be those exquisite, teachable moments. And when I asked if they wanted to be connected to this larger movement, and to act as role models within it, the answer was 'Of course'.

In my final meeting that day with the school leadership, I shared my observation on this unintentional SDG alignment. I commended them on the service ethic that seemed to be a part of every aspect of the school and suggested that there might be real value in taking a closer look at their programs and searching for further SDG alignment. But it was the Assistant Dean of the School who put this SDG discussion into context. He said the the average person in Ethiopia saw the SDGs and something designed by distant elites, something that had little relevance to the average person. And yet, ironically, the entire school, with its service ethic, was deeply committed to those very goals and was working to solve them every single day!

It led me to ask myself a number of questions. How many young people were engaged in supporting the Goals without knowing it? How many school programs could be linked/aligned directly to the SDGs by simply evaluating their programs? Is simply knowing that your work supports the Goals of value in and of itself and is there synergy that comes from identifying your initiatives as part of a larger movement? How could this enormous chasm between local action and goals formulated by 'distant elites' be bridged? Was there a role for young people to play in narrowing this gap,  making the Goals accessible in some kind of meaningful way to local communities? Could students mentoring students be part of this solution? Could MUN be a vehicle for delivering SDG awareness and a space for young people to engage in UN mandates (content), their communities (through action) and by collaborating with one another to bring the change needed to make the Goals attainable?

I think Model UN has an enormous role to play in bridging this chasm. This high school aged demographic, eager to work to support the Goals and larger mandates of the United Nations, seems to be both underutilized and only minimally engaged by the UN itself. When the different rules of procedure and the false dichotomy of what makes MUN, well 'proper MUN' is removed,  and the competitiveness gets stripped away from conferences, something very different emerges.  This is what MUN Impact has discovered: a groundswell of enthusiasm for 'doing something' with the knowledge gained through MUN participation. If we can purposefully connect MUN delegates around the world to ask these bigger questions about successfully attaining the Goals, and to facilitate opportunities to work together, something powerful will emerge.

The future of MUN will be found in places like Lebawi Academy. With the help of MUN Impact, this club and others like it can pivot together into something more powerful than just debate. This is a global community ready to lean in and support the UN through action. Now is the time to take words off a resolution and apply them to the challenges we face. I think our delegates are ready for this challenge.