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MUNPlanet: Madeeha, you live and study in Denmark. Tell us something about your life path, and what the deciding factor that led you to your first MUN was.
Madeeha: My involvement in volunteer work and working with NGOs sand debates started back in high school. I loved to manage and organize cool events for people and when I turned 18, I joined a group to found “Bedre Psykiatri Ungdom” a Danish organization that works for better conditions for the relatives of people with mental health disorders. My favorite saying is: “If you get wet, you might as well go swimming”!
I guess this can apply to how I decided that working with management, NGOs and solving problems was something I liked. After working with Save the Children Denmark, Danish Red Cross, Red Cross International, Danish Refugee Council, Care International, WSPA and Organization for the preservation of Danish nature, a very lucky and random incident made me join MUN.
I saw a flyer at the university that I could join a debate club and learn diplomacy. I actually did not have time, but my Economics class got cancelled, so I decided to show up for the introductory meeting – something I never regretted doing! I had a lot of experience, working with different organizations in Denmark, but engaging with MUN, in English, discussing world politics and meeting interesting people was so cool and I spent a lot of time on it, which got me elected as President for that MUN society just four months after I started. MUN is different from anything I have done before. Although we discuss serious issues and work with a serious organization – it's “just” a simulation! This is the only place in the world you can just have fun with it. Unlike in the other places I worked, where a mistake would have serious consequences, in MUNs the “worst case scenario” is a failed draft resolution...
Madeeha: I feel my non-political science background is a pro and a con at the same time. A con, because it is clear that other MUNers have a way bigger and detailed knowledge about the topics we are discussing, historical context of conflicts and many of my friends discussed the Ukraine crisis with me with other academic expressions from their studies than I could. A pro, because my studies have given me a bigger understanding of how an organization runs, organizational behavior, management, marketing and economics and therefore I know how to motivate people to work together on draft resolutions as well as how to improve the effectiveness of a committee and lead results with people.
MUNPlanet: Do you think that MUNs are addictive, and what is their most addictive feature to you?
Madeeha: It is very addicting! Once you have the “MUN fever” it is difficult to get rid of! I am definitely most addicted to the “high”, the adrenaline rush I get when debating and fighting with other delegates’ countries to protect own values and national interests. If you get really involved in your role, it's hard to let that role go in the socials – for me, anyways.
MUNPlanet: What MUN committees are your favourite? Also, what do you think about non-UN committees simulated at MUNs?
Madeeha: At international conferences, I have always chosen the HRC and SOCHUM. I like the field in which they work, but still I will say that for the actual debating, my favorite would be the Security Council (preferably representing a P5!). I am not a big fan of non-UN committees simulated at MUNs. For me, that is outside the actual concept of the UN.
Madeeha: I have learned when it's good to speak, but also when it's best to just listen. Solving conflicts, even fights with my sister, have become easier, reading the news and keeping updated is important and now an integrated routine in my daily day, and last but not least: have fun with it! MUN is the coolest combination of your own interests, fantastic people, politics, games, parties and holidays that you can find in one. Live in the moment and enjoy everything – even the frustration in heated debates!
MUNPlanet: You serve as president of MUN of Southern Denmark. What are the greatest challenges and rewards you faced on your current position?
Madeeha: The greatest challenge was leading an organization that no one knew about, it was new and everything had to be built from scratch. I spent a lot of time building partnerships, working with the university, booking rooms, planning debates, doodling and getting everyone involved in the debates. For many months, there was a lot of administrative work and at the same time working on the website, Facebook page, marketing and writing emails to newly interested people.
The biggest reward is seeing all the delegates that I have been working hard with train during the debates and events today. All of them have developed into amazing young people with excellent debating, public speaking and negotiating skills. They know how to lobby and they always go abroad and bring home the best delegate awards at different conferences. I am so unbelievably proud of them and it's truly rewarding to see all these MUNSDers work and what MUNSD made them.
Madeeha: Yes! At the moment, I have only been to one of the three simulation meetings the Model OSCE has planned, and I can say that I definitely have been able to use my experience from my MUN. Actually, it is easy to see which ones of the Youth Ambassadors have done MUNs before, because they all know and work by the Rules of Procedure! Also, MUN experience is helpful when debating and making your points clear and precise.
I will allow myself to say that the OSCE simulation is on a slightly higher level than MUNs, because the output we produce at this project will actually be reviewed in the real OSCE bodies and – hopefully – adopted.
Madeeha: MUN experience will for sure help your diplomacy skills and contribute to prepare you for a career in politics, world affairs or international organizations. Keep in touch with people that you had a good working relationship with and be open to opportunities that don't get you where you want to be straight away but will on the long run!
Madeeha: I hope many more MUNs will come and – to follow the spirit of MUN – ‘merge’ together to create diverse conferences. In our club we are talking to the MUN Society in Istanbul at the moment and will try to plan a conference together, sharing best practices and experiences to give future delegates an amazing experience. I am sure that MUNs will create even more young leaders that will want to tackle the world problems and make it a better place to be - the MUNs where they “pretended” to do this will help them go a long way!
MUNPlanet: One of the goals of MUNplanet is to gather MUNers who could become agents of positive change. Do you believe that MUNers can step forward and bring about the change as a transnational leadership force?
Madeeha: Yes! I am big fan of the MUNPlanet and I am sure that the results this newly created platform will show will be more than I could ever expect or imagine.