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