Lisa Martin is a prominent MUN leader who co-founded Online Model United Nations (OMUN) and is the director of THIMUN Qatar. Below is a transcript of the MUN Leadership Interview.
Kymberley: How was your first time as a MUN director?
Lisa Martin: In 1991 my head of school had just picked me up at the airport…I was getting ready to start my assignment as a new history teacher at ACS Abu Dhabi. He casually mentioned that he had signed me up to take students to something called THI-MOON. This was before the internet, we never received our Form II information in the mail, and we arrived horribly unprepared. We represented Nepal. I’ll never forget it!
Kymberley: What strongly distinguishes MUN from other similar debate activities?
Lisa Martin: It allows participants to discuss and research things that are not normally covered in schools. I think there is a pent up need to discuss RELEVANT issues in schools. MUN fills that void.
Kymberley: How was THIMUN Qatar founded?
Lisa Martin: When the THIMUN Foundation was looking to expand its conferences, they realized there was a huge and growing demand for a conference in the Middle East. The decision was made to hold one in The Gulf, and Qatar Academy won the opportunity to host it. With the backing of the Qatar Foundation, and the great conference facilities that the region provides, the rest is history.
Kymberley: As a director, what is the educational significance of OMUN?
Lisa Martin: The very nature of learning has changed, and schools have been some of the last to figure this out. People today work, learn and socialize in teams, and on platforms, that sometimes then morph into face to face/traditional work environments. OMUN gathers people around an interest, and teaches and executes its programming through social media in a way that is both new and inclusive. It’s the inclusiveness of OMUN that is its strength.
Kymberley: What challenges have you faced in OMUN and THIMUN Qatar?
Lisa Martin: The biggest challenge OMUN has faced is the fact that right as it began to feel like an established program, I had to step away from its leadership. There are numerous ideas I have for OMUN’s growth but I will have to wait until my time at THIMUN Qatar ends.
Kymberley: Have you participated in any MUN debates?
Lisa Martin: Yes, many.
Kymberley: How has technology impacted the MUN scene?
Lisa Martin: It’s allowed communities of interest to develop around MUN, and to assist with sharing information, research. It has allowed MUN conferences to reach out to other interested schools and students, and has probably been extremely important in the growth of MUN into new areas.
Kymberley: Do you have any advice for small or recent MUN clubs?
Lisa Martin: Keep it simple. Focus on debate and student leadership. Once you have hooked people into the actual fun of debating, you can develop a more elaborate club leadership program.