Global leaders in the making
I had the opportunity to attend the Selangor Model United Nations (SMUN) early this month and it was an eye-opening experience, to say the least.
When I say “eye opening”, I am referring to the realisation that struck me – the disparity of opportunities available to youths between the Klang Valley and Penang, compared with other states.
My two biggest takeaways from SMUN are, firstly, that we should always seize good opportunities that arise. Other than that, I learnt to never underestimate the value of starting young.
In case you don’t already know, Model United Nations (MUN) is a simulation of real life United Nations conferences, with students acting as “delegates” who represent various countries in various councils.
I represented Canada in the special summit on technology. Being a university student, I was really surprised to find that a sizeable chunk of the members in my council consisted of 13-year-old students.
I observed how they developed as MUN rookies on day one, into the well-informed and articulate individuals they were on day three.
Another highlight at SMUN was the roundtable with Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (National Unity Consultative Council Law and Policy committee member), in which he engaged with the youth regarding national unity.
It was then that I realised how fortunate these students were to have opportunities such as MUN in the Klang Valley (and Penang), and it made me a little sad about the lack of opportunities back home in Sarawak and other states.
Growing up, I was blessed to have the resources to fly around to participate in various competitions. Oftentimes, when I returned home, I would see myself edging over my peers in terms of experience and growth.
It made me wish that we had the same opportunities so that everyone else could grow, too. It would have made a world of difference if everyone could seize more opportunities.
For starters, MUN is a great platform to develop leadership skills, even more so when one starts young.
Imagine yourself as an ambassador of a country, determining its direction in the world on specific issues, ranging from nuclear disarmament to women empowerment.
You learn to walk in another (country) person’s shoes, harnessing the power of perspectives.
Seeing 13-year-old students in MUN debating policy caused me to ask myself: if someone can be this well-informed and well-exposed at that age, can you imagine how far they will go when they are 17?
Think of their growth, and all the impactful things they will be doing when they enter the workforce!
If you haven’t attended a MUN, I encourage you to go for it! It’s definitely an enriching experience.
If you’re not well-versed in foreign policy, worry not, as they provide delegates with starter kits to assist in the research. You will definitely grow, and most of all, you would have fun!
Cassandra is a Gen Y-er who believes in two things: youth empowerment, and that the youth hold many solutions to some of the nation’s biggest problems. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org