This article is published as part of MUN Spotlight, a special series dedicated to Model UNs from around the globe. The aim of this series is to introduce MUNs and their organizers to our MUNPlanet audience and beyond. Today we're taking you to New York, the capital of the WORLD and a place the first Global Classroom International MUN is about to take place. Giving an interview for MUNPlanet is Dr. Elie Samia, Program Director of the Global Classrooms LAU Model United Nations.
MUNPlanet: Please introduce yourself to our community.
Dr. Elie Samia: I have 24 year experience in university teaching at the Lebanese American University (LAU) in the academic fields of political science, sociology and cultural studies. A lecturer in Political Science and Sociology at LAU. I am now the Assistant Vice President for Outreach and Civic Engagement and is responsible of a plethora of student leadership and civic engagement programs. I am also the program director of the Global Classrooms LAU Model United Nations (2005-present), of the Model Arab League Program (2011- present), and of the USAID University Scholarship Program (2010 - present). I am also the faculty advisor for the Harvard World Model United Nations (2003-2005) and (2014-2015). I gave more than 200 workshops to a wide audience ranging from youth associations to corporate employees in Lebanon and abroad about educational leadership, negotiations, emotional intelligence, team building and project management.
MUNPlanet: Global Classroom International Model United Nations includes two conferences. Tell us more about them?
Dr. Elie Samia: The Global Classrooms International Model UN Conferences in New York City take place at the Grand Hyatt and the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations Headquarters. These two conferences, the middle school and the high school conferences, are considered one of the largest international Model UN Conferences in the world. The participating delegates, coming from more than 20 capitals live the UN experience. Alongside the delegates, there are student leaders coming from around the world including Ivy League universities to be part of the staff and the execution of the conferences. It is one of the methods of “Youth teaches Youth”.
MUNPlanet: Tell us more about The Lebanese American University (LAU) , institution that has provided pedagogical tools to educate youth about Model United Nations culture
Dr. Elie Samia: The Lebanese American University (LAU) is a leading, nonsectarian, private higher education institution in Lebanon. It operates under the charter from the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York and is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Lebanese American University is committed to academic excellence, student centeredness, civic engagement, the advancement of scholarship, the education of the whole person, and the formation of leaders in a diverse world. LAU has campuses in Beirut and Byblos in Lebanon and has centers in Beirut Central District and New York City. To know more about the campuses and locations, you can visit the following website: LAU | Campuses & Locations
MUNPlanet: Why is Model United Nations significant in students’ professional development? In what ways can this experience be useful to them later?
Dr. Elie Samia: Model UN is significant to the professional development of students as there is a correlation between participation and hitting the job market running. The knowledge, the skills and the time management that the students acquire help them build their professional career. It is a test of leadership, of conceptualization, and of organization and implementation.
MUNPlanet: Tell us more about the team behind this year Global Classroom International MUN Conference. What the preparation process looked like?
Dr. Elie Samia: This year’s Global Classrooms International MUN team is a harmonious team who believes in the success of the two conferences. They are dedicated student leaders who do not leave any stone unturned before achieving their goal: a successful Model UN Conference.
MUNPlanet: What is the motto of Global Classroom International MUN Conference?
Dr. Elie Samia: “Lead by Example”
MUNPlanet: Is international character important aspect of conference’s success?
Dr. Elie Samia: The whole program is based on diversity and enrolling students from all over the world. Engagement of student leaders from various cultures epitomizes the spirit of the UN itself.
MUNPlanet: What makes MUN conference great, in your opinion?
Dr. Elie Samia: The participating students will become delegates who take part in United Nations sessions’ simulations.The simulations occur over a two-day conference where students play the role of ambassadors in United Nations committees and discuss respective current and world topics.
MUNPlanet: UN Headquarters is the coolest venue one Model UN conference can have? What is the procedure for getting to host your MUN in such a building?
Dr. Elie Samia: Secret of the trade: connections, connections, connections.
MUNPlanet: Over the past 16 years, your conferences have engaged more than 4,000 student leaders coming from around the world and more than 48,000 high school and middle school students coming from 250 schools in 20 countries. If we’re not mistaken, this year you’re expecting more than 3,500 students. Considering these great results, do you feel pressure prior to every next conference?
Dr. Elie Samia: There is always the positive adrenaline permeating the pore of the Secretariat ahead of the conference as passionate and resilient staffers are eager for launching successful conferences.
MUNPlanet: Assuming that there would be a lot of first time delegates, can you give them some advice on preparing for conference in order to have the best experience?
Dr. Elie Samia: Be intellectually curious and open-minded for you to enjoy the process and to learn new techniques and skills.
MUNPlanet: Tell us more about this year’s committees. Did you decide to include some specific or go for the more standard ones?
Dr. Elie Samia: The committees of this year’s conference range from general to specific. There are committees are like the Security Council, The General Assembly and there are committees like the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, World Bank, Food and Agriculture Organization and the Disarmament and International Security Committee. There are around 29 committees simulated in this year’s conferences.
MUNPlanet: There is no more inspiring place in the world to organize Model United Nations than New York. Beside the daily sessions, what other activities will the participants experience during their stay?
Dr. Elie Samia: The delegates and participants will visit the LAU New York Headquarters and to meet the decision-makers and agenda setters from the UN itself.
MUNPlanet: Final question! What is one thought, one idea, that you want your delegates to leave with once the conference is over?
Dr. Elie Samia: Peace starts in the mind.
MUNPlanet: Dr. Elie Samia, thank you for devoting your time toMUN Spotlight and telling us more about you and your MUN. MUNPlanet is looking forward to your conference and strongly advises all MUNers to check it out. Until our next chat.
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