The pictures in this article were provided by the members of the Online Model United Nations (O-MUN) delegation.
The 45th annual session of The Hague International Model United Nations (THIMUN) made an important mark in its history. Since it foundation in 1968, THIMUN has maintained a strict policy of only allowing school delegations to participate, which consequently prevents home-schooled students and individual delegates from attending. However, this year marked the debut of the Online Model United Nations (O-MUN) delegation at THIMUN.
Led by O-MUN co-founder and Director Lisa Martin and Assistant-Directors Audrey Cabral, McKenna Tucker and Thasbeeh Moosa, the O-MUN delegation was comprised of high school students from different corners of the world. Despite the fact that most of them only interacted with each other online prior to meeting, the O-MUN delegation members felt like they had known each forever when they met at The Hague.
The O-MUN delegates represented OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Nations) in councils such as the General Assemblies, the Economic and Social Council, the Environment Commission, and Special Conference on Energy and Sustainability. For some delegates, THIMUN was their first face-to-face Model UN experience, but preparation through regular online debates allowed them to participate without being hindered by the problems that first-time delegates usually have. Despite a lack of overall face-to-face experience, most of the O-MUN delegates main-submitted a resolution (a high honor at THIMUN), all of which, except one, were passed. This is an indicator of success give the fact that THIMUN does not give out awards.
Apart from debating in their respective committees, the O-MUN team was also involved in hosting demo debates for the delegates at THIMUN. O-MUN participants from around the world joined the delegates at THIMUN during these online debates which were also chaired and moderated by O-MUN members.
O-MUN presents an opportunity to attend one of the largest and most prestigious conferences in the world for those who do not have the opportunity to such as homeschooled students and students from schools which do not go to THIMUN (getting a delegation at THIMUN for a new school can be extremely hard due to its long waiting list). I hope to see O-MUN’s attendance at THIMUN conferences grow in the coming years so that students who are not able to have the chance to do so.
Here is what the individual team members had to say about the conference:
Lisa Martin – “It is almost beyond possible to put this week into words. This was unquestionably one of the best, most fun, unique, crazy, outgoing group of delegates that I have ever worked with. .. Our primary focus at THIMUN was to share O-MUN in the all critical and necessary Demo Debates…, it appears that we can definitely say MISSION ACCOMPLISHED… O-MUN put into the hands of some of the best MUN Directors in the world is a winning combination.”
Thasbeeh Moosa – “This was probably one of my favorite trips. From meeting everyone that I work with for the first time, to taking these students around Amsterdam, every moment has been brilliant. Running around and ensuring nothing happens to 10 students was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I now have the utmost respect for sheepherders and teachers that go on such trips with students. I don’t think I would have shared this week with any other group of students.”
McKenna Tucker – “After returning home from THIMUN The Hague 2013, I’ve realized that one of my favorite aspects of the experience was being immersed in the cultural diversity of delegates and directors, and my team. Since O-MUN spans the globe, our delegation was as diverse as the world is vast. I loved sitting down with our delegate from Lebanon to talk about the political hostilities and conflicts his country is currently facing, and then turning around to discuss the grossness of raw herring with our delegate from Taiwan; watching our delegate from Jordan help our delegate from Egypt brush up on his Arabic, then turning around to speak a little Spanish with our team assistant from the USA. It was incredible to witness how students from such different, and even divergent, cultures and nationalities can come together and act as such a cohesive and powerful team. Serving as a leader and participant in that was an honor and something I will carry with me throughout the future.”
Audrey Cabral – “In addition to enjoying this trip so very much, it has been monumental for O-MUN’s progress and development. The outreach we were able to do while at THIMUN was tremendous, as was the response we received from delegates and directors. New delegates are pouring in, and each time I see a new delegate added to our group, it reminds me how very grateful I am that O-MUN has had this chance to share our program with the world. As a delegation, I believe O-MUN shattered expectations and proved the value our program has. There’s no telling what is in store for us, but undoubtedly many exciting advances are on our horizon. I’m honored to be a part of O-MUN and cannot wait to see where this journey takes us next.”
Russel Evans – “If you would have told me a year ago that in one year’s time I would be attending the largest MUN conference in the world, I probably would have said something along the lines of, “what is MUN?” I am constantly in disbelief at that very thought. Getting chosen to attend THIMUN with O-MUN was one of the best moments of my life.”
Nadine Fattaleh – “Debating days were everything I wished for and more. I know I get a bit aggressive and over-excited during debate. The trip to Amsterdam was amazing, even though I had no time to change and went around with white socks and ballerina’s (fashion suicide). I really enjoyed cycling around the city, and learning to use the bike lanes. I’m sure I’ll go back there one day. I couldn’t have asked for a better THIMUN experience that I spend with my O-MUN delegation, ECOSOC friends, ABS schoolmates, and the Kaleidoscope of other MUN friends I’ve made at AMMUN and THIMUN over the years.”
Chris Bishop – “Personally, it was my first experience of a face to face conference, and I had absolutely no idea what to expect. It seemed as if everybody but me knew what they were doing when we arrived at the World Forum on Monday morning, but I quickly applied what I had learnt from the online world and got stuck right in… I made the speech, I answered the POIs and together with our co-submitters, and new friends, we passed the resolution by a landslide. The feeling I got was immense. It was the culmination of months of work, and I felt it symbolised not just my work, or Nadine’s work, or our work, but the monumental effort and graft put into O-MUN over the last year. It showed that we knew what we were doing just as well as any other delegate. It proved to the rest of my committee what Nadine and I already knew.”
Omar Naguib – “Somewhere around 6 months ago, I had no clue what MUN was, and I just passed a resolution by overwhelming majority in the biggest conference on earth. I am proof that O-MUN is just an accessible version of MUN, because there is no way I could have passed a resolution at THIMUN without the experience I received through O-MUN.”
Hasan Shami – “Just imagine that to do MUN, you don’t need to be privileged or go to a privileged school, you don’t need to wear a suit, and you don’t need to pay. There are so many possibilities that one can do with such a breakthrough program that can give you high-class training. I mean, it was obvious how good our training was from the multitude of main submitters we had on our delegation, and some of them hadn’t done MUN before, and are so skilled that they would intimidate even the most experienced students. All of those are just memories that I will forever cherish now.”
Salam Keadan – “There have never been a lot of programs that I can join over here, at least not what I was looking for, O-MUN was the perfect thing for me, I’m really glad I am a part of this amazing journey! When I joined O-MUN, I finally felt that I belong to something, like I have something to do and enjoy at the same time! So THIMUN week was one of the best weeks of my life, unfortunately it was over by no time! I had an awesome week, unforgettable moments, met wonderful great students from all around the world! I really miss everyone and everything over there!”
Nick Yeh – “While the debates were a lot of fun, I really enjoyed meeting the different people and making friends as a result… The cultural experience of just going to Amsterdam and The Hague was amazing (and yes this includes the food). When we visited Amsterdam on Wednesday, I felt that I learned a lot more than I expected… Finally, I truly miss out of everything was meeting and hanging out with my O-MUN Team.”
Rameez Remsudeen – “Online Model United Nations, these 4 words mean a lot to me, now more than ever for it’s had a massive effect on my life. A year ago, I barely knew what a Model United Nations was. Today I am part of the leadership team of the world’s most innovative MUN platform. Today, I’ve made a bunch of amazing friends from around the world, whom I never would have met, if it weren’t for this program. Today, I am fortunate enough to represent O-MUN as part of this very organization’s first delegation to The Hague International Model United Nations, The Netherlands, something I’d never really imagined I’d do.”
Congrats to the O-MUN team for a successful trip to THIMUN 2013! To read more about their trip, you can visit the members’ individual journal entries here.