Program equips young people with the ability to solve complex problems and set out on the path to leadership
In a world growing more interconnected by the day, instilling the values of global citizenship in today’s youth is more important than ever – and attendees at the 2019 Paris Peace Forum have been given a close-up view of a program from Qatar that is doing precisely that.
THIMUN Qatar – the region’s very own Model United Nations, and a joint project between Qatar Foundation’s Pre-University Education and the THIMUN Foundation – was presented to delegates from around the world at the annual gathering of thought-leaders in the French capital, with representatives from the program including its 18-year old Secretary-General, Tianne Pane.
“THIMUN Qatar is a simulation of the United Nations, so we have a similar structure,” she explained. “All of these teams are made up of high school students — just like me.”
Established in 2011, THIMUN Qatar offers a platform for the leaders of tomorrow to experience the complex, multi-faceted problem-solving necessary to address the world’s challenges. Around 1,700 students from Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East come together to participate in THIMUN Qatar’s conferences, sharing ideas drawn from a diverse set of experiences and backgrounds.
The conferences offer experiences that go to very heart of diplomacy, harnessing the power of empathy to break down cultural, geographical, and social barriers. Its showcase at the Paris Peace Forum revealed how one student participating in the program initially refused to represent a certain country because of deep-seated biases, but, during the course of a THIMUN Qatar conference, fundamentally changed her views.
“It’s an illustration of a student going from thinking in biases and black-and-white to thinking like a diplomat,” explained Fatima El Mahdi, Head of THIMUN Qatar. “The Hague International Model United Nations framework was able to give her a way of thinking that broke through preconceived barriers and biases.
“It’s so essential to be able to do that, particularly with a world that – as connected as it is – is also becoming very divided. She’s one of millions of examples in THIMUN’s 50-year history of students who have expanded their thinking through the Model UN conference.”
Being part of the Model United Nations for the past five years has also been a very transformative experience.
Recounting how she began her journey with the program at the age of 13, Pane revealed how what started as a “very daunting task” eventually helped boost her self-confidence and leadership skills.
“Being part of the Model United Nations for the past five years has also been a very transformative experience,” she said. “There’s a lot of inspiration that I’ve taken away from being part of these conferences.”
Pane also explained how she took what she learned through THIMUN Qatar back to her native Indonesia. “Using the knowledge and skills that I had taken from participating at THIMUN Qatar, I was able to bring those ideas back to my own community in order to better it. “I led a team of students at my own school to found a MUN conference, and we had 150 participants at our very first one.”