United by a passion for a stronger world

Over the last two years, UNDP in Azerbaijan has collaborated to establish a Model United Nations and boost the MUN movement in the country.

The Model UN movement unites youth from different educational backgrounds and social status.

Their shared interest in global affairs unites them, creating a strong network of Azerbaijani youth. Nearly 900 young people have participated.

What is that experience like for a young Azerbaijani? 21-year old Sheyda Karimova, majoring in American Studies, writes about her experience.

Day 1

It’s 8.30 and the bus is packed with sleepy people who have little idea what awaits them in the upcoming days.

We’re on our way to the Model UN conference. The introvert in me is panicking. What have I got myself into?

When the first session starts, I remember why I’ve come. I stay quiet until it is time to raise motions. When my motion passes and everyone awaits my statement, I panic again. By the end of the first day, I still don’t know most of the people and miss being in my comfort zone.

Day 2

I learn that people here have come from all different backgrounds. One of the participants is 15, another 30. Someone’s studying International Relations, while the other is a Computer Engineer major.

What we have in common a passion for world affairs. It’s all we need to build a connection.

Highlights

  • Nearly 900 students and recent graduates participated in the Model UN events
  • Two Model UN summer schools were organized outside of the capital to introduce MUN for students
  • The First National Model UN Conference were organized in Azerbaijan

A Q&A session with representatives of the Ministries of Education, Foreign Affairs, and Ecology and Natural Resources lasts longer than expected because of our curiosity. At some point, I gather up enough courage to ask a question. As I sit back and listen to the answer to my inquiry, I feel pride wash over me. I just spoke up.

For the rest of the evening, we play games and joke around. I start memorizing the names of my fellow delegates.

After midnight, while everyone is either preparing for the upcoming day or already asleep, we hear the directors’ voices outside announcing a crisis session.

I rush outside.

I am terrified. All I can think is that we’re all going to die and I won’t even be online to tweet about it.

I realize I need to sort out my priorities.

During the crisis session, I observe people around me. I am both surprised and impressed by how everyone works everything out on the spot. I watch people with no diplomatic or political education discuss possible solutions to the crisis at hand.

I feel proud for being a part of this amazingly diverse and informed community.

Day 3

I wake up eager to talk about last night’s events. A few hours later, my country’s name is on the list of General Speakers and I have to speak in public. My hands are shaking, and so is my voice.

When I finish my speech, my hands are shivering and my heart is racing, but I can’t stop repeating the same mantra: I did it. I did it!

When it’s time to prepare the working paper, we skip lunch and coffee breaks, and work on our draft proposal. We’ve created a coalition, and although I have no idea how that influences the course of events, we need to hurry, so I type as fast as I can.

When I’m told that I will present our resolution with another delegate, I sincerely wish that the ground would open up and swallow me.

That night, we have a party. I sit a little bit away from the center and watch people enjoy themselves. Although I can’t overcome my dislike of crowds, I enjoy the company of those who approach me. We chat, take pictures, discuss current global elections. I shamelessly interrogate one of the organizers about their inspiration for working on this project. I keep thinking of the upcoming departure. I eventually retreat back to my room.

Day 4

When I find out that I’ve received honorable mention, for a moment I can’t believe it. But when I do, I smile deeply. I walk up the stage and all I can think is, “Thank God I didn’t trip on these heels.”

Then, already, it’s time to go. I made it.

Epilogue

Days have passed since that experience, but the enthusiasm is still tangible. I finally feel like I’m a part of something bigger, like the actions I take today will make a difference through generations down the road.

It’s taught me that however small your part might be, it has an impact bigger than you can imagine.