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The Uganda Model United Nations (UGMUN) 2024 conference, at the International School of Uganda (ISU), started off briskly with a multitude of excited students beyond ready to represent different countries across the globe in the different committees of the United Nations. These students are not like any others, but rather are emergent diplomats prepared to tackle worldly issues head-on. This may only be a simulation, but it could easily pass off as the United Nations; considering the zeal, the debates and of course, the never-ending chumminess portrayed by the participants. Through the Model UN, young voices are able to contribute to global dialogue and undertake pressing global issues with the keen use of intellect, empathy and determination. It is not just a debate, but rather a realm where future leaders can be shaped for the better of the growing world. I, after attending the conference, was asked by someone much younger than me whether or not I would recommend attending this conference. 

It’s incontrovertible that such a worth-while event could come and go without any highlights. Due to this fact, I went around asking some of the participants what their high spots were and believe me when I say it was all smiles and positivity. One student reported that simply having the chance to debate, it being her forte, was more than enough happiness. The ability to share ideas and interact with a superfluity of fellow debaters, especially during the unmoderated caucus, felt like home. She continued to add that she took that opportunity to talk to some of the fine young men there; if you know what I am saying! All in all, UGMUN gave her the chance to do what she loves best, debating. She was also blessed with the chance to form friendships, exchange contacts and build onto her social capital as a whole.

Another student stated that the highlight of attending UGMUN was the fact that it strengthened and confirmed her passion to be a diplomat. This was especially when she was tasked with speaking for Afghanistan in an auditorium with hundreds of delegates. She was able to open a discussion for an amendment that wowed nearly 90% of the audience. “Standing up there in front of all those delegates was nerve wracking at first, but as time went on, it felt like part of me,” she said. I was extremely mesmerized by the stories from the two students, so I decided to ask just one more! This student emphasized that merely being there for her first time was striking, more so because she was among the delegates that had been chosen to defend their resolutions. It was simply exciting to have the new experience and learn new things. 

However, it is always said by our parents that in all we do, picking up a lesson or two is important. UGMUN didn’t just teach a lesson or two, but rather a great sum of them. Firstly, the conference gave the students a chance to exercise the confidence they had had within. Through activities like debates, the unmoderated caucus and the emergency situation, we as participants, were given a platform through which we could express our views and opinions without fear of judgement, giving us chance to showcase our confidence and be listened to. 

To add to that, this conference gave us the privilege of learning conference etiquette, something that will be of great use once we get into the world of work. A value on which the UGMUN organizers were keenest was the skill to speak only when required to. It might seem like something small, but it taught us that there is no need to shout, speak over others nor be rude when it comes to such big decision-making crowds as it is not just about feeding egos, but rather about feeding the people with value. Most importantly, the Uganda Model United Nations instilled in the participants the rare, but indispensable ability to think both quickly and critically during various situations. While posing an argument, one should acknowledge the fact that it could go two ways; either undying support or restless counteraction. In the event of counteraction, the delegates were able to learn how to think on their feet. This is a skill that will take many of us places. 

In my most earnest opinion, being part of UGMUN will never be a waste of time. There’s too much good to learn, experience and appreciate from the conference. It is unfortunate to know that this year’s conference was my last, being a high school senior, but the overflow of gratefulness and pride I carry from having attended it four times will forever reign in my heart. The question still stands; whether or not I would recommend attending this conference and I think after reading this article, personal initiative rather that recommendation will drive one to take a leap and attend UGMUN. So why not? Take the step and get the chance to have a noteworthy learning experience, form bonds with people and even incorporate a bit (a lot) of fun.

I remain, 

Mercy J. Babirye, 

Year 13 Alphas

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