On Saturday last week, 6 of my kids took part in their first ever Model United Nations.
Participating in 3 councils, each with 30 countries, with kids ranging from grades 5-9, they were discussing the Climate Change + the Kyoto protocol in the UNEP, the South China sea + the India China border issue in the UNSC and the Refugee crisis in the UNHRC. It seemed overwhelming at the outset, I wasn’t too well versed with the complexities of the India China border issue myself, and as one of the youngest delegations at the MUN, it seemed like I was pushing my kids too hard, when they were only in Grade 5.
But nobody enjoys a challenge like Mohini Sagar and her new best friend, Ayesha Qureshi. As the double delegation representing India in the UNSC, they absolutely loved the fact that there were the youngest kids in council. They stayed back after school regularly for 4 months, with 10 other kids in my class that I’d picked, to learn the rules of MUNning, and to discuss, debate and deliberate over everyday world news. In the last month and a half, they stayed back everyday specifically to discuss their agenda, research, write their GSL speech, practice and rehearse the same, to discuss potential solutions and write mock resolution papers, while finally staying back to criticize Nehru’s China policy.
On the day of the MUN, while dwarfed by the delegations from Pune who were more experienced and considerably older at Grades 7,8,9, they weren’t intimidated. 5th vs 9th wasn’t really fair, but David versus Golaith wasn’t either. I told them that in the off chance that they pulled it off, it would make for a great story. They didn’t care much for my advice though, and they walked right into council.
About an hour and a half Ayesha and Mohini were leading their block in the UNSC, authoring a resolution paper on the India China border issue. Shaheen and Famida, were doing the same in the UNHRC, writing fervently about why developed countries should help developing countries deal with the refugee crisis, and by lunch Soheil and Kashif were authoring resolution papers in their council too. Kashif had raised about 15 points of orders, during the GSL almost getting thrown out in the process of doing so.
At the end of the day, the kids sat down, tired and exhausted, fingers crossed in a hall with more than 200 kids, about 90 teams, and many fellows and parents who had come to watch. Ruchita, Swapneel Arhan and I sat at the back, away from the kids who had participated, and we waited with bated breath as the UNSC chair walked up to the podium to announce the winners.
After about a few seconds you could see Ayesha Qureshi and Mohini Sagar walk up the stage to a resounding round of applause to receive the Best Delegation, UNSC award, theiir first ever one at a Model United Nations. Shaheen Siddiqui walked up on stage a minute later as Best Speaker, UNHRC and Soheil Lanjekar and Kashif Abbas followed to receive their Honarary Mention, UNEP award. They got off stage, looked at me for a split second and then sat down, the award held close to their heart.
But the part that I remember most, was during lunch when I was sitting with Ruchita, behind Mohini and Ayesha. The kids were discussing council proceedings, when the IP walked up to them to take an interview. One of the questions she asked them revolved around what they had learnt this year and Ayesha, very typically replied saying she’d learnt how to speak formally in front of a crowd, and how to write a resolution paper. Mohini Sagar took a second to answer the question, considered options, before looking up.
As the Centre back in her all girls football team that reached the finals of the JFK Mumbai league last year, as the runners up at Halla Bol in the parliamentary debate competition this year, as a fantastic class monitor, and on the verge of winning a Best Delegate award at her first Model united Nations, she looked up, and answered confidently; this year, I learnt how to win.
The world awaits, Mohini.
The fellowship draws to a close, but I now I wait for the day when you actually find yourself sitting down as delegates of India at the United Nations; don’t let anybody ever tell you its not possible.
Because where you come from, will not determine where you go. Not anymore.