While nonchalantly walking past a street in the US, I randomly saw an advertisement on the window of a shop, which said “Allow yourself to be a beginner. No one starts off being excellent.” I couldn’t even remember why I laid my eyes upon it. It was plain and had nothing except for those twelve words. “Nothing too special about this,” I thought. But because of its simplicity, I started to ponder what the message really meant. It’s not until last month when I did finally begin to unravel what that mysterious and seemingly-ordinary copy was all about.
Together with the delegation from the Model United Nations Club at Beijing World Youth Academy (BWYA), I went to Singapore for The Hague International Model United Nations (THIMUN) Conference on November 20, 2016. The annual conference is organized by the Hwa-Chong Institution in Singapore and is open to all secondary school students. Our team was composed of 12 students from 9th grade up to 11th grade and two teachers, Ms. Sophie Lauratet and Ms. Hacina Reienskiöld.
I have been dreaming of working at the United Nations since I was nine years old. Back then, I had always thought that the UN was an extraordinary place, created to bring peace and harmony to the world. I thought then all country representatives and delegates at the UN were the smartest and kindest people in society. When I was young, I would write notes, poems, and prose about my UN dream. Those were just wishes and my most desperate longing, but the most daring prospect of actually getting inside or working at the UN had never crossed my mind. But the conference changed it forever.
All of my hopes and daydreams over the past years had become a delightful reality; however, brand new challenges had also quietly sneaked in like an intruder. Being in our BWYA MUN club has pushed me to analyze many critical issues and topics and approach them with a range of solutions. It also helps us improve our public speaking skills and teaches us how a real United Nations works — from collaborating with other people to addressing global economic trends, political relationships, and human rights issues. As one participant Michael Yang believed that THIMUN challenged his skills to think critically and work together with others. He said, “It is very interesting, just simply hearing and discussing diverse ideas from others taught me a lot.”
I was nervous and slightly hopeless on the eve of the THIMUN conference. But those emotions were not because of my lack of preparation or the number of speeches that I need to work on. It’s the fear of the unknown. I was assigned to the General Assembly’s Economic and Financial committee — but I had no experience with it at all. On the conference day, the General Assembly president told everyone at the opening ceremony to step out of your comfort zone.
I admit I’m a beginner and I allow myself to be like one. No one can be successful from the beginning, so why not venture out into areas that you are not exactly comfortable with and be excellent in them? My co-participant Anastasia Borodina said the conference gave us the chance to challenge ourselves. “We’d met brilliant people who reminded us to show the best of our abilities at all time.”
Throughout the THIMUN conference, I gradually realized that no one will feel sorry for you or attempt to give a helping hand if you are frightened and nervous. No one will notice you for being timid, secluded, and inarticulate. In a room of more than 150 people, if you are willing to sit in the corner and don’t want to speak up, then congratulations, you’re in the right place. But if you also wish to explore new areas that you are not keen to, or not scared to let your voice and thoughts be heard, then allow me to offer you my sincerest congratulations — you’re also in the right place.
Even though BWYA students had been separated into different committees and assemblies, I always received messages in our group chat like, “Oh my gosh, I am the main submitter of our resolution! 1” and “Guess what? I became the co-submitter of our resolution!” These messages randomly appearing on your WeChat really did give me a warm feeling. Despite being in different rooms to debate about various topics, we knew we would succeed in the end, no matter where we started from. Actually, I also achieved being the one-and-only head co-submitter in our resolution group and passed one of my amendments for other groups’ resolutions in later debate sessions.
My memory of THIMUN is still fresh even until now, and my passion for it has never lessened a single bit. It gave me so much more than I had ever imagined—it taught me what teamwork, bravery, and friendship meant, and what was necessary to give up while exploring. And more than anything, what the Model United Nations was all about.
As the delegate of Venezuela from BWYA in this conference, Spring Xia, told me she learned about how the Model United Nations works and worked together with people she didn’t know. She said, “It was tiring, but it was fun!” BWYA student Christina Zhao also believes that being able to participate in THIMUN 2016 is really an awesome experience. She said, “I made some new friends and we are still chatting online! I feel very satisfied because I challenged myself and really stepped out of my comfort zone!” One of our club directors, Ms. Reienskiöld, thought the conference was amazing. She said, “The student delegates went up and did speeches. They achieved so much more than what they believed that they can do.”
This was certainly a special experience in which we gave our best and bravely stepped out of our comfort zones. In the process, we had discovered our inner selves. We might have started out as beginners, but does that matter now? We have just embarked on a journey to becoming the successful ones in the future. And some day, some time, when we get slightly tired on the way, we’ll just pause and look back to this precious and unforgettable memory of 2016 THIMUN Singapore Conference with a grin, and continue our pursuit to success.
(Note: The main submitter and a co-submitter of a resolution is similar to a leader and co-leader of a group of approximately 10-15 people)