By: Ashlee Pitts.
This year, I participated in the Geneva International Model United Nations Annual Conference for the second time. Based on my first experience and the incredible memories that I hold dear to this day, it came of absolutely no surprise to me that for some students, this annual conference was actually their third, fourth and even fifth time having a role in the conference.
The opportunities and potential for global networking, cross-cultural exchanges, mock negotiations and enhancements in written and verbal communication were enough to draw me in. Adding in the fact that this week-long conference is held on United Nations’ territory in the beautiful city of Geneva undoubtedly made applying to be a journalist at this Conference one of the easiest decisions that I have ever made. There is an extraordinary feeling that fills me up when I step foot in the United Nations office in Geneva. I feel that I am a part of something special and unifying. Everyone in that building has passion and is committed to global affairs and the issues that are of great concern. They are not just talking about it over coffee. They are putting in the actual work required to reach concrete solutions. How could I not be inspired by that?
I want to get involved. I need to make a difference, somehow. Walking through the corridors and passing by so many different faces and mother-tongues, there is a feeling of incredible unity even amongst complete strangers because there is this inherent sentiment that though you do not know the purpose of their time at the UN, you can be sure that they want to make a difference, just like you.
Right now, my home country, the United States, is deeply polarized and divided by a plethora of issues related to differences in political ideologies, seemingly never-ending racial tensions and clashes in viewpoints on religion, sexuality, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, voting rights and so on. The list goes on and on. In the midst of all the bickering, insults and misunderstandings, we forget that our diversity is actually one of our strongest assets. After the incredibly disheartening and tumultuous presidential election season, I was itching to arrive at the United Nations again. I needed to find the hope that I had lost somewhere between the conclusion of the primary elections and Inauguration Day.
Spoiler alert: I found it. I found it in the people that I met at GIMUN who seek to bridge the divides in this world. When I look back on my time with my fellow journalists as well as the delegates, interpreters, and Chairs, I truly feel like we had one collective voice; a voice that unequivocally refused to accept hate, division and partisan political undertakings as the norm. We want solutions and I think that every single participant of the conference said in their own way: I want to help and I want in on the process. I have hope and am certain that everyone at this conference will play a role in making the world better for future generations. And the diversity of talent that I witnessed amongst the participants is what makes me certain of this. I could see many of them creating positive change throughout the world in many different ways may it be in the realms of governing, teaching, consulting, writing or even through music or art.
By now, I would hope that we have all come to terms with the fact that no one individual country or world leader can solve the pressing, urgent and dire issues of our world on their own. It will take all of us to have a hand in coming up with solutions. It will not be swift and it will not be easy, but if we want any chance at world peace, we need to put the arms down, lift our heads up and link hands in solidarity while understanding that peace-talks and negotiations will go further than any amount violence, intimidation or psychological warfare. I am humbled by my experience at GIMUN and while this conference was my last, the memories and lessons learned will be irrevocably everlasting.