MUNPlanet: Martina, you have assumed the role of a World Merit global ambassador. What does you current position entail?
Martina: Being the World Merit Global Ambassador means I have the incredible privilege of being able to travel the world, as an ambassador at large, representing an international network of change-making millennials who make up the World Merit global community. I travel to speak with young people about how they are making a positive difference in their communities and work to connect them with others doing the same across the globe.
MUNPlanet: How would you define leadership and entrepreneurship?
Martina: Leadership and entrepreneurship are actually quite similar in mind. They are both about having the bravery to stand up and do things in ways that have never been done before, getting the support necessary to achieve the goal, and getting it done!
MUNPlanet: There are many initiatives and leadership networks all over the world. How is World Merit different?
Martina: World Merit is different because it is radically inclusive and consists of a network that is truly global. We have over 100,000 members internationally representing nearly every country in the world. What's more is we have some incredible programming and training for young people to develop their leadership potential; to really become the best version of themselves as leaders. These programs are based on merit. You claim your spot on the program roster by demonstrating your merit, passion and determination to make a difference.
MUNPlanet: United Nations serve as a source of inspiration and action for young leaders and game-changers. But “it is not enough to be inspired” – the world has to act. Being a World Merit Ambassador, how do you see the possibilities for bridging the gap between inspiration and action?
Martina: This is a very crucial point. As important as it is to discuss and be informed on the world around us, we must act as much, if not more than we ponder. I believe the spark that changes thought to action can often be as simple as people believing in their own capacity to act. I have a theory wrapped in a fear and that is that we often lie to ourselves and the specific lie that we tell is great. It is this... "I am powerless." "I can not change my life." "I cannot change my circumstances." I believe this damages us as individuals as well as society as a whole. My hope, is to share my story with others, to share the stories of our community of members who are just like me and you; people making a difference, to allow young people to recognize their own agency to act.
MUNPlanet: Where do you get your inspiration from? What are some of the crucial ideas, books or people that influenced your thinking about the world.
Martina: I get my inspiration from the world around me. I am constantly in awe of how capable people are of doing the unthinkable. I cherish history and love true stories a of movements which started with every day people yet changed the lives of millions (the Women's Suffrage Movement, to name one example). On a personal level, my principles and values align with theories of appreciative inquiry, non-violent communication and peace and capacity building, so it's perhaps no surprise that some of my favorite writers and thinkers are spiritual leaders and thoughts leaders with a mind toward changing the world from the inner individual outward. The Dalai Lama is a prime example of this- in order to create outer peace we must first have inner peace.
MUNPlanet: Recently, you wrote that “we can in a very deliberate way change our thinking, and use our own powerlessness to plant the seeds for a powerful-not-empowered existence, and from that stems all change”. Could you expand on that, and what is needed for one to wake up his/her agency?
Martina: It starts from within. It is like the saying goes "Whether you think you can or you think you can't- you're right." I think as human beings it is easy to feel overwhelmed with the complexities of life and systems around us and think, "This is the way it has always been. This is the way it always will be and who am I to change that?" But in fact, I don't believe that line of thinking is helpful or even accurate. Read a little about brain plasticity and we know that people are capable of rapid and deep transformation on a personal level. Read a little on human history and massive change-movements (think Black Civil Rights Movement, the Womens Suffrage Movement etc.) and you will see that society and systems change often.
Change is a very normal and natural state of being. What is more, is that we are capable of directing that change. I think often we forget this. But we must first believe in our ability to direct. We must feel empowered first; feel our agency, and then act. It starts with each one of us recognizing that our existence has so much more potential than we often give it credit for, and that we can use that potential for directing positive change.
MUNPlanet: “People who transform themselves can transform the entire world”, Sir Ken Robinson stated recently. What are the greatest challenges for such a transformation – and how it connects to a global transformation?
Martina: YES YES AND YES! When we challenge our own thinking and assumptions and are open to change, incredible things start to happen. Undoubtedly, the obstacles are massive. They are everything we know. They are society. They are us... and that's huge, of course. Changing how you see the world can be a massive undertaking, yet the reward is also massive. People transforming, who are capable of perceiving their worlds while understanding their thinking is not the only way of thinking; who can hold a thought, understand it, and perhaps not accept it but respect its validity... those are the kinds of people who can bring much more kindness, cooperation, and transformational change to this world, because frankly, their ego does not stand in their way. They can be fearless in their pursuit of change.
MUNPlanet: It seems that MUNPlanet and World Merit communities seem to have a lot of things in common when it comes to inspiring young leaders. Imagine if those two communities collaborated on achieving some of the global interests?
Martina: I can imagine it and sincerely hope it happens.
......Seriously, email me.
MUNPlanet: You recently participated at a One Young World leadership conference in Novi Sad, Serbia where you met some of MUN leaders. What is your opinion on the transformative potential of the MUN community for the world?
Martina: I think the potential is there and I know that it is strong. Transformation is not easy. It takes patience and understanding of ones environment, of how the world and it's systems functions, it takes the capacity to speak but more importantly, to understand and listen well. I believe that MUNers learn exactly this, and I have seen it live in practice. When I was in Novi Sad I could feel the passion and peaceful enthusiasm toward being part of this transformative process. That passion will fuel the way for years to come.
MUNPlanet: One of the goals of MUNPlanet is to get the brightest members of the community together to take part in a meaningful dialogue and interaction. Do you believe that MUNers can step forward and bring about the change as a transnational leadership force?
Martina: Absolutely, and I hope you will include me and the World Merit community in the process. Young people must act together. The days of factions and divisiveness are over. We are more globally connected than ever before. Those who think alike, share passions, share common interests, and aspire towards the same world should work together with MUN to bring about transformative change.
MUNPlanet: What would be your message to MUNers?
Martina: Always remember what matters most to you in this world and hold that in your heart; keep it close to you; do not be afraid to transform,s to be different do achieve that purpose. And most importantly, seek out people who care in the same way you do, they will be your strongest support, tribe and friends.
MUNPlanet: Martina, thank you for devoting your time to speaking to MUNPlanet. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors. Keep the MUN community updated with what's up new.
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