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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.

Student-initiated IMPACT Summit announced for Prague

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By Albert Oliva, Impact Summit Organizer

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When I first heard the question, with whom and where did I get inspired to start organizing Impact Summit with Salam Centre for Peace, I answered in Doha, Qatar when I attended an official MUN Impact meeting where all leaders gathered to discuss their future goals. Even though I did not say a single word and I must admit I was a bit scared to say something, as I was sitting with such an amazing and high achieving people at one table, it totally changed my flow of thoughts.

Why can’t I be a leader like them, and do a real Impact in this world?, Was the first question that popped in my head, and actually you know what, students can make real Impact and their voices can be valued on the same basis as those who are currently working in UN. This is exactly why I appreciate and admire organizations such as Salam Centre for Peace and MUN Impact, as they truly give out the confidence and MUN Identity through their activities. Couple of years ago, I could not even speak out loud at my school, as I was afraid someone is gonna judge me based on what I say, but it was time to change that, and actually we need to change this in our world, as without students we cannot build our future.

 

 

Impact Summit with the cooperation of MUN Impact wants to make a platform for students to truly uncover their potential. This Summit is going to be special because it’s structure is rather extraordinary. Our aim is not to create a MUN conference where during the opening ceremony half of the students will be asleep and during the sessions, majority of students will not be involved. We want to make radical changes and therefore we have introduced a whole new structure of debate. We want students to feel that their voices are on an equal bases as those in real UN. Without change and without implementation of new rules we can never achieve a significant Impact on our society. A single thought can change everything as Lisa Martin, director of MUN Impact supports with her statement how Impact Summit started

MUN Impact grew out of the Qatar Leadership Conference. I planned an MUN Thought Leaders Summit and had hoped to host a discussion on best practices within the MUN community. But in the lead up to that event, a number of great conversations took place that really focused people's attention on the SDGs and how the Model UN community could support that. By the end of our Thought Leaders Summit, we had a name, a domain purchased and a twitter account.”

Impact can be created quickly, and with a good team and support you can really change the world. Since it began MUN Impact has helped students to organize their own MUN conferences and has raised awareness of student Impact all around the world. And where does Lisa Martin see the real Impact and future development?

“I think we would like to find ways to develop MUN programs that focus on activism and support of the SDGs, host our own MUN Impact Leadership Conferences, and to find substantive ways to engage with the United Nations. MUN Delegates are a very rich source of support and activism, and the UN should be taking greater advantage of this engaged community”

Impact Summit and MUN Impact both will help students to realize that everybody can lead this world and become a true leader. The Summit is expected to have delegates from all over the world, and is special in a way that there are no barriers of entry. We are open to high school, university students however also professionals in SDG fields such as representatives from foundations and NGOs. Without MUN Impact this Summit would not take place, and I believe that this partnership will be the key and fundamental pillar of the entire event. Throughout the Summit delegates will receive press releases which will be composed of stories from MUN Impact blog as everybody has to know what we students have truly achieved.

There might be borders in the world, but there are not borders between us, and let’s connect the world together. We hope to see everybody in Prague and we are looking forward for all delegates in September to help us shape Leaders of Tomorrow

 

 

Fund a Child -MUN Impact in Dar-Es Salam

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By Joon Alibhai, MUN Delegate from the International School of Tanganyika

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Our passport to understanding the complex world that we are part of - education - may be readily available for some. However, for others, it is a dream that almost never comes true. Due to the lack of opportunities for education, trying to navigate through this slippery world is a grueling, perplexing, and simply tragic reality for many. A basic human right is being denied to millions of children around the world, and despite the recent efforts for gender equality, over half of the children not in school are girls. According to UNESCO, over 31 million girls are not attending school, and the impact this has on their futures is extremely unfortunate.

Fortunately, educational pursuits such as Model United Nations (MUN) have successfully been able to foster youth leadership. Worldwide, devoted MUNers are establishing life-changing projects for the betterment of the world. One example of this can be found in the International School of Tanganyika, in Tanzania. Fund A Child (FAC) is an initiative started by a few students through the International Baccalaureate (IB) Creativity, Action, and Service (CAS) program with the aim of fully sponsoring education for  underprivileged girls in the local area of Dar-Es-Salaam.

Head of Marketing for FAC, Vijay Krishnan explained that, “the self-sustaining service activity that works hand in hand with a local beneficiary, CHIPUA, has managed to donate money for the completion of secondary education of 7 girls (including textbooks, any needed stationary, tables and chairs) through sponsors and fundraisers.” Project president Veer Visaria said that “MUN has given me insight on pressing global issues, and taught me how to diplomatically lead a group of inspired young delegates.” This year the service group has raised $4000 from two fundraising activities, and now sponsor an additional six girls for education.

This #MUNIMPACT story demonstrates how much of a butterfly effect MUN really has outside of the conference’s annual bubble. Students like Visaria are continuously channeling their passion to create a better world, and THIMUN is helping them find their voice.

Student Initiative + Operation Smile= MUN Impact

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By Farah Nanji, Former MUN Delegate from The American School of Kinshasa

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[caption id="attachment_2869" align="alignleft" width="198"] Operation Smile provides free surgeries to repair cleft lips and cleft palates[/caption]

I am currently a freshman at UC Berkeley and attended the THIMUN Qatar conference in 2017 and 2016. I founded the Operation Smile Student Club in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo my sophomore year of high school. I had volunteered with Operation Smile years before the club was formed, but as it started growing its base in the DRCongo, the regional director reached out and encouraged the formation of a student club. I jumped with excitement at the idea of being able to help an organisation that I had seen literally put smiles on children’s faces. Given the opportunity to start the club, I reached out to my friends and other students at my high school who had similar interests.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We started by organising small scale fundraisers to raise awareness about the club and the NGO. At the end of the school year, we organised a large dinner gala for the expatriate community and government officials in the DRCongo, raising about $50,000 that year for the upcoming mission. The gala became an annual trend; we organised one in 2016 and 2017, improving the structure, entertainment, decorations, and organisation each time. Everything from making the brochures and tickets, to renting out the hall and calling photographers, to approaching companies to collect sponsorships was done by students while simultaneously balancing school work.

 

 

While my time with Operation Smile developed my professional development skills and taught me the importance of teamwork, it was most impactful in helping me learn about myself. Over the two and a half years I was president, I was able to realise that I am most passionate about international affairs, sustainable development, and working with children. I was also able to learn about my abilities as a leader, which developed over time through trial and error.

Looking back, my favourite part about the experience was that it wasn’t easy. The obstacles we were facing were not like the problems you face in a classroom where perhaps you didn’t do the reading for a class or didn't know how to solve a math problem. Rather, we were dealing with real people so it really had an impact on the way I cope with stress in and outside of school. The more I became involved with Operation Smile, the more my love for international affairs grew because I was able to connect much of the health issues the Congo faces to the broader political problems associated with it. The experiences I gained also gave me the confidence to then become the Vice President of the Service Learning Club at my school junior year and MUN president my senior year.

Operation Smile helped me with MUN as I was able to practice my public speaking skills and teamwork skills. Guiding a team to host an event facilitated the process of combining resolutions and discussing issues with strangers at the THIMUN Conference. Additionally, the two worked hand in hand to help me find my passion and realize my strengths as a leader and personally. Overall, the skills I gained through Operation Smile were relevant in every part of my life and still help me today in university. The experience taught me how to multitask, organise large scale events, manage my time efficiently, and reflect; skills applicable and necessary for any career path and any minute task. Even today, as a college student, in the interviews I’ve had, I speak about Operation Smile because I attribute much of what I have learned about myself as a person, leader, and my passion to my experience with the student club.

[caption id="attachment_2871" align="aligncenter" width="485"] Farah receives the THIMUN Qatar Peace and Service Award, given each year to a worthy delegate who has advanced, through service, the core values of the THIMUN Qatar Community.[/caption]

 

 

THIMUN Qatar hosts MUN Impact Student Summit

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THIMUN Qatar hosted its first MUN Impact Student Summit on March 17. The gathering of MUN leaders from across Qatar  met to plan ways that Model UN in the country could begin to focus on action in support of the SDGs, to move the words off of resolutions and into ACTION.  Thirty seven students spent the morning reviewing the mission and vision of MUN Impact, and exploring resources on the MUN Impact website.

 

 

Students were then randomly selected and put into groups of three and given an SDG.  Working quickly through the MUN Impact Planning tool, they step by step devised a hypothetical action plan with a generous and very hypothetical QAR 20,000 budget ($5,500 USD)  They had to locate and identify the Targets related to their SDG, then link one to an issue in their local community. They then brainstormed ideas on how a student-initiated campaign or project might lead to the development of a successful event, and had to identify obstacles, key stakeholders, permissions and timelines necessary for an event to take place.

 

 

After lunch, students self-selected themselves into groups around areas of mutual interest. The process of identifying a Goal, a Target and linking that to a community issue was repeated, with a longer opportunity to lay out a plan of action, which included spirited discussion on what the goal of a program would look like, necessary approvals and permissions likely needed from school administrators, and a step by step timeline on how the program would organized. This was the first in-depth opportunity to have students work with the MUN Impact Planning Tool, helping us to refine the tool as a user-friendly tool for planning SDG-related campaigns and projects.

 

After four hours of intense activity, participants circled back around to talk about the larger relevance MUN Impact might have in their club, and in the THIMUN Qatar community at large. And the room became electrified with discussions about action, inclusion and general agreement that everyone should be involved in promoting the SDGs in Qatar. The closing minutes reminded everyone that this generation, when given the opportunity, is a generation of ACTION, and in this case, ACTION to support the SDGs.

 

 

 

MUN Impact meets Empower participants

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Attendees at the annual Empower Conference, hosted by Reach out to Asia (ROTA), had the opportunity to learn about MUN Impact and to engage in some spirited discussions about how to develop an action-oriented plan of action to support the SDGS. Conference attendees, hailing from as far at Tansanzia, Palestine, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nepal, Kenya and of course, Qatar, spent 90 minutes exploring the tools and resources on the MUN Impact webpage, followed by an hour of discussion of how to develop a plan of action to support a particular SDG and target.

Using the MUN Impact planning tool, teams of three or four students developed a plan of action tied to their SDG. They had to identify potential obstacles, necessary permissions and authorizations, who their plan would benefit, and how members of their team would be accountable. Through their discussions a number of initial ideas emerged, such as raising awareness around the issue of public sanitation and toilet facilities for migrant populations, to noise pollution affecting our marine environment in Qatar. Participants discovered that even simple, targeted issues had complex webs of interaction  and overlapping SDG targets. The conversations were rich and nuanced, and the participants, bringing their own diverse life experiences to the discussions, resulted in animated and spirited discussions.

This was the first opportunity for MUN Impact to share their planning tool, and we learned a lot about how our planning document could be improved.  Workshop leaders Lisa Martin, Emmy Josefson, and Fatima El Mahdi had a great time meeting the participants at the Empower conference and look forward to more opportunities to share MUN Impact with empowered youth in the region!