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I am Dr. Maureen Ifeyinwa Egbuche, CEO of FutureTrust Initiative for Capacity Building (FTI). I am a very simple person and enjoy the very simple things of life. I love to teach. I attended my first Model UN (TEIMUN) conference as a delegate, over two decades ago in 1995 in The Netherlands, during my Post graduate studies in Brussels, Belgium. That was when the MUN bug bit me.
I am also the Chief Conference Convener (CCC) of The African FutureTrust Model United Nations (TAFMUN) Conference. It was launched in the summer of 2015. The 2017 conference is its 3rd edition.
MUNPlanet: TAFMUN is a flagship project of FutureTrust Initiative for Capacity Building. Could you tell us more about this NGO? What is its vision?
Our organization is a youth focused NGO registered with the Federal Government of Nigeria. Our vision is to be a leading organization that would provide life changing learning experiences and opportunities for young people; the future of every nation. We are quite excited at the prospects of re-channeling the priorities and ideas of youths towards meaningful purpose and direction in life. Our ultimate goal is to inspire young people (Agents of Change) willing to ignite a spark to create change within themselves and to improve the lives of people.
Our programmes are mainly on Education, Leadership training, Capacity Building, Philanthropy. As implied by the two key words that make up the name of our organization (FUTURE and TRUST), we at FTI believe that we (the present generation), have been charged with responsibility of charting the course of actions that will shape the lives of millions in our nation and the world at large for years to come.
To contribute our quota to having a positive outlook for what the future holds for those who would help mould it (especially the youth), we laden our programmes with future-proof initiatives.
MUNPlanet: How was TAFMUN created? What inspired its creation? Where do you hope to see it in the future?
Our organization has been a service provider for the preparation and participation of Nigerian students in Model UN (MUN) Conferences abroad since 2002. However, over the years we observed a very high under-representation of AFRICA at these conferences. That informed our decision to organize and host TAFMUN conference. Nigeria and indeed most of Africa are late-comers to the MUN awesome opportunity for capacity building in youths. With our wealth of MUN experience, TAFMUN was launched in 2015. It is a wonderful opportunity, right here in Africa, for students who cannot afford to go abroad for MUN experience and also especially for other international delegates seeking to discover Africa via youth programmes such as MUN.
In the next 5 years, TAFMUN would have become a household name for world class international Model UN experience. In the ongoing online registration for 2017 TAFMUN conference, students from outside the African continent have expressed interest in participation. It is a development in the right direction and we intend to sustain it.
MUNPlanet: The conference will provide senior high school and A’ Level students with the opportunity to discuss topics of international concern through constructive debate with their peers. Will MUN experience help the students with their university applications?
Yes indeed. Admissions into universities increasingly require evidence of participation in globally recognized Extra-Curricular / Leadership programs such as International Youth Conferences. Model UN (MUN) Conference experience tops the list. Evidence of MUN Participation distinguishes MUNers from other students during their university applications.
MUNPlanet: You mention a problem-solving approach. Do you think that today’s youth was taught critical thinking and problem-solving in school? Is today’s youth good in these two areas?
Today's youth is not good in these two areas and one cannot help but ask if today’s young people are actually adequately prepared for the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century?” We do not have a straight yes to that question just yet. MUN Conference is a uniquely powerful way to educate today's youths as they are placed in the shoes of Ambassadors at MUN Conferences.
Skills acquired at MUN Conferences are not usually provided for in traditional school curriculum. The benefits of MUN Conference hinge on transferable lifelong skills such as negotiation and collaboration skills, conflict resolution, consensus and confidence building, analytical skills and time management, just to mention a few. Model UN participation helps students find their X-Factor (extra factor) and this is what ultimately makes them in life. One of the goals of education is to assist students to discover and create something in themselves that sets them apart, for the present and the future. MUN does that to a very large extent.
MUNPlanet: Participants will learn to break away from narrow self-interests and develop true international co-operation. Besides this, what are other major ways in which they will benefit?
We live in an ever changing world, which will favor the person with diverse experiences and abilities for a competitive edge to face the world of the future. MUN conferences provide that competitive edge. From the moment a delegate is assigned a Model UN conference committee, he / she does all the research required to represent his or her assigned country, remains in character as a citizen of that country throughout the duration of the conference. Such a delegate would have at least learnt to be open-minded and willing to dialogue for the best interest of all parties. This is not far from what plays out in today's real world. TAFMUN and similar conferences will prepare them for the jobs and workplaces of the future.
MUNPlanet: The date of the conference is such that the pre-conference preparations won’t affect the student’s academic calendar which is amazing. What advice do you have for novice MUNers as far as pre-conference preparations go?
For TAFMUN conference, we have online tutorials (video links and manuals) for novice and returning TAFMUNers. This will prepare them sufficiently for their roles in conference. It promises to be a memorable and fulfilling experience indeed.
MUNPlanet: One of the key conference features are social events and excursions. Is there a chance you could tell us what you have prepared?
Our conference venue is located in Lekki, Victoria Island, Lagos. There is a beach,
15-minutes drive away from the venue. All delegates will go for a beach party immediately after the TAFMUN closing ceremony (Day-4). When we get to the beach, there shall be a Community Service by the delegates. This will involve a 2km LITTER PATROL along the beach after which we settle down for the beach party. The party is for the delegates to unwind after TAFMUN's 3 days brainstorming sessions. There will be music, sports / games and food for all delegates.
MUNPlanet: How can the role of technology and new communities such as MUNPlanet affect the future of student conferences?
The various options of e-publicity on the internet has impacted immensely on awareness of TAFMUN conference. Publicity / Broadcast on MUNPlanet platform has helped us greatly to achieve a major milestone in terms of global outreach for delegates. We can't wait for when we shall have even participation of delegates from within and outside Africa in subsequent TAFMUN conferences. This, to a large extent, will be facilitated by today's technology, especially platforms such as MUNPlanet.
MUNPlanet: What is one thought, one idea, that you want your delegates to leave with once the conference is over?
One thought we want our delegates to leave with once the conference is over is the plan for participation in 2018 TAFMUN.