Aya Taqi ’22 (left) and Sarah Khanfar ’21, representing Papua New Guinea at the 2018 National Model UN conference in New York.

I’ll never forget the rush of emotions that were going through me as I was next in the speaker’s list. I was nervous, because I’m naturally a shy person who avoids public speaking at all costs. But I was also excited.

I was excited to share the weeks of research my delegation partner, Sarah, and I have conducted on Papua New Guinea with the rest of the committee, a simulation of the UN General Assembly at the 2018 National Model UN (NMUN) conference in New York City. After my speech I welcomed the relief, but that’s only because I worked hard to put my fear of public speaking behind me.

This interchange between hard work and relief is how I’d describe my Model UN experience. During the conference, you’re constantly put in situations of high pressure. You have to work with people who are not willing to cooperate regardless of a deadline. You have to persuade delegations to be a part of your working group. This can be tough when you’re representing a small country.

But after all the hard work, you get this sigh of relief that is completely rewarding. Suddenly, the long hours, sleepless nights and extremely hard work don’t matter anymore. The skills gained and experience of the conference definitely outweigh anything else.

I found Model UN to be a great learning experience. I had the opportunity to work on my research and writing skills when writing my position paper for the conference. During the conference, you get to put your communication, leadership and problem solving skills at work. The conference made me think about current world issues in a fresh and creative way, seeking new solutions.

I left the conference motivated, to learn and do more, with a newfound respect for the UN and diplomacy.

— Aya Taqi ’22