Before I came to India, I had little idea of what the three letters - MUN - stood for. Five months later, halfway through my exchange, I have participated in two Model United Nations, one even being an internationally acclaimed event. The recognition is never the part that matters though, and I can say that, without a doubt, AIMUN (Amity International Model United Nations) 2017 played a large role in helping me see not only myself, but the role of exchange through different lenses.
For the actual MUN sessions, I must admit I was slightly unprepared as my countries were swapped - from Ethiopia and Estonia - just two days before the conference commenced. Nonetheless, the agenda for my committee was 'the elimination of racism and racial discrimination' as well as 'racial discrimination within the US judicial system'. I found this to be quite an interesting topic as solving it would be within the same realm of the goal of my exchange - to bring peace through understanding.
Though I walked away with a Special Recognition Award from the General Assembly, most of my time at AIMUN was spent interacting with exchange students from 10 different countries! It was the perfect way to embrace the immense benefits of International Education during IEW. Some of us exchange students were meeting each other for the first time since we had landed 4.5 months earlier, so it was enriching to be able to share stories of success and overcoming our challenges. To me, the most amazing thing was to hear how different our exchanges have been despite residing in the same country. On the same token, we also shared many laughs due to some common sticky points in adjustment.
Furthermore, this MUN was a chance for me to step out of my comfort zone - something I have learned is key to making the most out of an exchange, or really any situation in life. On the Monday before the conference, I was called into school to start preparing a dance for the cultural gala that would happen on Friday of the same week, following the second day of the MUN. Aside from a few ballet lessons as a little girl, I had never put on a dance performance, let alone a solo performance in front of an audience. To be honest, I was seriously doubting my ability to prepare the dance well. Before I knew it, I was putting on my Indian clothes, picking up my dandiyas and heading out onto stage. Considering my dancing ability (or lack thereof) I put on a performance everyone enjoyed. Sharing what I had learned so far in India was a way for me to give back to those who have helped me grow as a person and a way for me to reflect. The happiness I brought to those around me made me feel amazing even if my dance was not so. I gained an immensely valuable life experience.
MUN, Model United Nations, three words that have come to mean so much more to me than just a platform of debate. It helped me to embrace what it means to be a cultural exchange student and reminded me of my role as a cultural ambassador here in India. As I head into the next half of my exchange, I will keep what I have learned in mind in order to make the most of my exchange both for myself and those I interact with.
Hi! My name is Anna McKane. I am 16 years old and have had a pretty ordinary life up to this point. I believe this experience will change me for the better and I will try everything I can while I am abroad.