Some 350 high school students from 13 countries participated in mock international negotiations recently as part of the 12th annual Georgetown University in Qatar (GUQ) Model United Nations (MUN) conference.
The longest-running international MUN conference in the country, which took place at the Qatar National Convention Centre, brought together young delegates from 28 local and 14 international schools who took diplomatic roles in a simulated version of real life UN negotiations.
Themed “Fostering development: Complexities of intervention in a globalised world,” the conference saw participants represent their assigned countries in complex discussions to reach consensus on key global issues.
While the topics resulted in heated debates between parties with opposing views and beliefs, the conference encouraged participants to be respectful and enhance their inter-cultural understanding.
The delegates this year hailed from a diverse range of countries, including South Africa, China, Greece, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Bosnia, Oman, Turkey, and the US.
“We believe in dialogue. We believe in cross-cultural communication,” associate dean of student affairs Dr Brendan Hill told delegates at the opening ceremony.
“We are here to make our own solutions to these issues,” said MUN secretary general Nayab Rana (SFS’18).
She explained how the conference, by assigning students to represent nations which they may not be familiar with, provides “an opportunity to learn about the world in the most unique way possible: by learning about it yourself.”
This year’s event featured a keynote speech by GU-Q alumni and CEO of Teach for Qatar, Nasser Yousef al-Jaber (SFS ’10), who officially opened the conference.
Student delegates were engaged into intense negotiations for three days.
The subjects discussed were devised by the student-run MUN board, which comprises experienced GU-Q students who have been involved in previous MUN events.
Topics this year included chemical weapons, the status of refugees and asylum seekers, international peace talks, and the containment and treatment of global epidemics.
The event was the culmination of months of training and preparation by delegates and advisors.
Before students can participate in the MUN conference, they need to attend three rounds of intensive training to boost their negotiation skills.
These sessions also helped GU-Q students gain experience in chairing discussions to obtain the proficiency needed to perform their roles in the main MUN event.
This year, around 50 GU-Q students were involved in various roles in the conference.
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