Equipping Young Peacemakers initiative spotlight: Model UN
written by EYP participant Sara Ali
As a 2019 alumna of the Iraqi Young Leadership Exchange Program the 2016 English Access Micro-Scholarship Program, I know how greatly involvement in international communities can change a person’s life. Through my participation, I had the opportunity to develop personal and professional skills including project management, teamwork, leadership, and conflict resolution. I am now a medical student in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, a decision that was greatly influenced by the learning, passion, and self-confidence I gained on these programs.
In 2020, I worked as a Digital Facilitator with the World Learning Organization for The Experiment Digital Program, a virtual exchange for high school students from the United States, Algeria, Yemen, and Iraq. Building on my own international experiences, that role confirmed my interest in working on Quality Education, Gender Equality, and Youth Empowerment. And so I gratefully applied to the Equipping Young Pacemakers program, because I wanted to have a more in-depth knowledge of data science, design thinking, and evidence-based methods for tackling social problems, in addition to the micro-level my medical education examines.
As an EYP participant, I built my understanding of the Sustainable Development Goals and the interconnectedness between large global issues. During my time with the program, I began working as the Outreach and Recruitment Assistant at the National Model United Nations Association – the very first Model UN in Iraq. I am so proud to help launch Model UN in the Kurdistan Region, and to directly apply the tools I gained from Equipping Young Peacemakers to the work we are doing with university students, professors, and community partners.
The Kurdistan Region of Iraq has a long history of conflict and limited opportunities for youth. But it is also home to young people’s passion, hopes, and ideas – and thanks to EYP, I have the skills needed to help equip other young people with the capacities they need to share solutions for global crises. At NMUNA, we call on young people from across the region (high school students to recent graduates) to join in our very first Model UN experience. Participants will step into the role of diplomat, working with delegates from around the world to discuss challenging issues while gaining skills in leadership, research, and public speaking. Together, we will build connections with individuals from different backgrounds and write resolutions shaping future projects.
One of my favorite memories from Equipping Young Peacemakers is sitting in a breakout room on Zoom discussing the difficulty of providing Quality Education in conflict regions. By the end of our conversation, we had realized the strength that youth have by themselves in supplying this need, through innovative teamwork and attention to the integrated SDGs. I am so excited to bring that lesson to my work with Model UN. Because if there’s one takeaway I have from the past six months of intensive EYP training, it’s that evidence-based changemaking is not simply about crunching numbers and engaging with statistical analysis – it’s about genuinely understanding the issue through the insight of diverse young leaders coming together to share their piece of the picture. Together, we can create the change needed to bring about truly sustainable development.
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