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The Impact of Networking through MUN

MUN Impact 0

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.

    

 

 

 

Taipei American School Girl Up Leadership Summit II

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By Janice Yang, Annabel Uhlman, Vivian Wang, Niralee Shah

MUN Impact Press Writer: Si Yun Ee

 

On April 7, 2018, the Girl Up Club in Taipei American School (TAS) hosted our second annual Leadership Summit.  Our high school club is registered as a chapter of Girl Up which operates under the umbrella of the United Nations Foundation.  As we reflected on the intent of the club’s founding and began our work in hosting a summit that would attract over 100 participants, we realized the significance of our journey and how closely it aligns with MUN-Impact’s process of Inspire, Dive In, and Impact.

Our chapter’s founding two years ago was inspired by the recognition of a lack of discussion and awareness of gender issues within our community.  The Girl Up organization itself closely aligns its mission with Sustainable Development Goals number 4 and 5: Inclusive and Quality Education for All, and Gender Equality and Empowerment of All Women and Girls. Girl Up’s five pillars of action to cultivate areas such as girls’ leadership, education, and health were all missions that inspired us.  We were energized to be part of a change.

The “Dive In” component of our initiative involved converting all our dreams into reality, which often required all things related to logistics more than anything else; learning about the paperwork necessary to start a club, defining and then executing a club leadership structure, and learning how to connect with the larger UN Foundation Girl Up network. Of course, there were also many other smaller yet even more important things, like getting members to show up for meetings, or deciding what content (of the infinite possibilities) we wanted to talk about at each meeting.   All the logistical steps that would eventually lead to the impact stage also included discovering and attending the Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington D.C.. At this Summit  we were in contact with former U.S. Treasury Secretary Rosie Rios and model Ashley Graham. We also got the opportunity to lobby with U.S. Congresspeople to pass legislation related to girls’ education. The Summit in D.C. further inspired to take what we learned and to maximize such a valuable experience to make an Impact within our own school community.

 

The following year we simulated the experience of the Leadership Summit in D.C., bringing it to a broader audience of youths and peers at TAS. Our summit was targeted for those who did not have the opportunity to attend the Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington D.C., to encourage discussion and advocacy of gender issues, and to promote the notion to many on campus that pursuing gender equality should not be discouraged.

While the summit held at TAS was modelled after the summit in D.C., the event catered to the key issues commonly experienced by our school community and its audience of mostly youths. The overall theme pertained most relevantly to SDG 5 of Gender Equality and Empowerment. Specific workshops, many of which were interactive or discussion-based, explored more nuanced aspects of the topics, ranging from Self Defense to Matrilineage to Women’s Leadership and Amplification.

Through the two years of our running this summit, our participation numbers jumped from 60 to over 100, including both student and faculty workshop presenters and event attendees. Most recently, we were also able to invite speakers such as the Ambassador of Belize, as well as women leaders of law and technology firms Paragon Legal and Intel to talk about how gender issues are tackled on both the global and the personal level.

 

Although MUN Impact had not been established when we started this journey, reflection as we prepare their next journey to college reveals how closely the process of impacting our surrounding community through issues we are passionate about aligned with the goals of MUN Impact. This whole project has taught us that yes, it is indeed possible to create something from nothing, and reach hundreds of people with our passions through the process. From a small community here at TAS, we can find the same goals and passion to implement impact, parallel to the reason for encouraging youth to take action - exactly why MUN Impact was established.

 

Connecting the dots: SDGs and Extracurricular Activities

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By Maria Manacheril, Teacher and co-MUN Director at the American School of Doha

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On the morning of October 20, 2017, I was standing under the spider sculpture at the Qatar National Convention Center with a furrowed brow, looking over the catalog of speakers at the 2017 Qatar Leadership Conference and trying to decide which of the many alluring workshops I wanted to attend.  A panel titled "Behind the Scenes: The United Nations and the SDGs" caught my eye, so I headed to the theater to check it out.  I had no idea that what I was about to hear would have such a profound impact on my role as an educator.

The message from Natabara, Sean, and Sergio that stood out to me was that we need to get the word out about the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and raise awareness about the work that is going on worldwide and inspire others to contribute.  I realized that my school, the American School of Doha, is involved in many service projects that directly support many of the SDGs, but we are not doing our part to spread the word.  I felt very strongly that we need to do a better job of educating our teachers and students about the SDGs and getting them excited about working towards achieving them.

I teamed up with Chi Shang, the high school learning service coordinator, and Yasmine Samadi, a junior who also attended the SDG panel at the 2017 QLC, to discuss potential steps we could take.  One of the most effective suggestions was around SDG video introductions.  Every month our school hosts one guest speaker from an NGO, embassy, or organization who has dedicated their life to service.  With the help of video production students, Yasmine created short videos to introduce each speaker and connect their work to the relevant SDGs.  The videos are a powerful tool to raise students awareness of the SDGs.  Our next steps include doing an SDG inventory (courtesy of MUN Impact) of all of our service clubs and using SDG and MUN Impact hashtags on all of the school's social media posts related to service.  We are looking forward to covering even more ground in our SDG awareness campaign in the coming school year.

[video width="1920" height="1080" mp4="http://munimpact.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Melissa-Diamond.mp4"][/video]

A MAD Idea in support of SDG4

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By Shane Hynes, Student, St Andrews, Dublin

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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!

 

EDEN Hope in Motion and the SDG Inventory in action

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By Albert Oliva, MUN Impact Press Writer and SDG Innovator

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The SDG Inventory is a newly established tool from MUN Impact which aims to raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals. You might wonder that everybody in our modern and industrialized world is fully aware of the 2030 agenda and that when setting and establishing a school club occurs it is always with a vision to tackle one of the goals, nevertheless, opposite is the truth as we can hear from MUN Impact director Lisa Martin.

“This past week I had the opportunity to visit a Leadership Academy in Addis Ababa. I met with several club leaders as they shared their activities and community outreach. Each and every one of them were engaged in actions to support the SDGs, in most cases some very specific Targets. These students were only vaguely aware of the SDGs. The Dean of their school told me later that the most prevalent view of the SDGs is that they were something designed by elites and had little direct relevance to common people.“

In order to raise awareness of the goals, and change the attitude of many about them, students around the world were encouraged to use this SDG inventory tool to map one club at their school and track their SDG progress and raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals which are being tackled by this club.

After thinking for a while I have chosen to be for the past two weeks in contact with a MIT Launch initiative led by Novy Porg students called EDEN Hope in Motion. Five brave students took the chance and risk of establishing a new organization in a very short time and promoting it on an international level during the last year and during the last week MIT session which was held in Brussels. EDEN Hope in Motion is aiming through its activities and online app which can be accessed on Android and hopefully very soon on apple, to spread awareness of urgent social and environmental issues and to connect the society with charities and NGOs, all around the world. It’s most recent aim is to organize events and trips which will support jeopardized communities all around the world.

Even though, all 5 students which established and launched this project are aware of what Sustainable development Goals are, they did. Ot really realize to what extent they tackle some of them. Throughout observing their actions and talking with the organizers of EDEN Launch, I can conclude that most three fundamental SDGs tackled by this organization are 12th- Responsible consumption and production, 13th- Climate Actions and to some point of an extent 1st- No Poverty.

And what about future of this organization? We have asked Kristina Savchenko, one of the 5 key figures, which made this idea come true.

In the future, our aim is to make EDEN, more international and establish international routes and trips through which our app will help millions of in need. Currently we are thinking only about conducting trips to Indonesia, however slowly but surely we would like to visit and make beneficial trips to all continents of this world.”

Even though this organization is new and was established just couple of months ago, it has made a tremendous progress and supported solutions to before mentioned Sustainable Development Goals. There should be a greater demand for such organizations and I strongly believe that slowly but surely students will initiate and realize more of their ideas and desires.

Dancing ’round the World

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By Evan Williams, MUN Impact Press and John Burroughs student

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On February 9th, the students of John Burroughs School in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA convened in their community’s field house for an evening of celebration dubbed “Dance Marathon.” The biennial event, often viewed as a means to let loose by the students, is underscored by a philanthropic goal. This year though, the dancefloor had a distinctive feel, as the student body was supporting Hope for Education and Leadership in Afghanistan (HELA), an organization with which Burroughs has a storied history. The delegates of the John Burroughs MUN team have met with the HELA delegates on several occasions and have developed somewhat of a rapport. This is the heart and soul of Dance Marathon, assisting in efforts to lift people up. William Bartnett, a current senior at John Burroughs, and a press member of the MUN team had this to say of the event: “I’m pleased we were able to rally the community around giving so much support to an organization that is doing amazing work in a part of the world that desperately needs it.”

HELA is a group effecting visible change, and Jakes Steinkamp, also a current senior at John Burroughs, and one of the members of the Dance Marathon planning committee noted that he thinks their effectiveness is one of the reasons this year’s turnout was unusually large, saying, “Having the money go to HELA encouraged not only the students, but also local businesses to donate. People are more inclined to give when the change is something they can see.”

In total, the event raised $23,187, half of which has been sent to HELA to support their growing ambitions. HELA is currently gearing up for their own international MUN conference in Afghanistan in an attempt to draw the focus of young world leaders to the Middle-East and spark a discourse in their backyard.

The spirit of Dance Marathon, according to Bartnett, is “generosity,” just as it is the spirit of HELA. Giving back to one’s community is central to the idea of MUN. This event is not only an exercise in humanity, but an indicator of global kinship, and has left an impact on the communities involved.