Over 300 students convened at American University of Sharjah (AUS) for the annual Model United Nations (AUSMUN) conference.
The opening ceremony was attended by Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Ali al Nuaimi, known as the "Green Sheikh" for his environmental work, and youth motivational speaker Khalid Al Ameri. A collaborative effort of AUS undergraduate students, AUSMUN is an innovative conference in which debates are fostered, alliances are created and thoughtful solutions are proposed to some of the most pressing issues of the present day.
Now in its eighth year, the three-day conference was attended by over 300 high school and undergraduate students from the UAE, Pakistan, China and the United Kingdom, and allowed students delegates to simulate the various committees of the United Nations and develop a sound understanding of international relations and diplomacy. In the process, students exercise their skills of research, negotiation and public speaking. This year's conference featured eight committees, the widest selection in AUSMUN history.
During the opening ceremony, Kevin Mitchell, Interim Provost, said "It is fitting that AUS host AUSMUN as this university is home to students from over 90 countries and faculty and staff members from 45 nations. AUS is an institution enriched by its diversity, whether that be expressed in the way we treat each other on the sports field or when we express points in classroom discussions. In a world where political disagreements can be amplified in ways that could affect the lives of many individuals, educational institutions like AUS have the responsibility to lead by example and to demonstrate the value of coexistence and mutual respect over confrontation and conflict." Mitchell also took a minute to remember Dr. Richard Gassan, a faculty advisor of AUSMUN and Associate Professor of History, who died tragically earlier in the week. "He was a valued and committed faculty member, loved by his students and colleagues from around the university," said Mitchell.
According to Omar Al Mutawa, Secretary-General of AUSMUN, "Through AUSMUN, students delegates will be better equipped with the tools and character needed to inspire change in our increasingly interconnected world and multifaceted reality. The conference provides the participants a fantastic opportunity to meet like-minded individuals from the UAE and abroad." The student delegates addressed topics ranging from security concerns and the environment to public health and economic and social issues. To form a successful resolution, delegates had to negotiate their positions and make reasonable concessions, as would occur in a real diplomatic effort. The main objective of delegates was to engage in finding solutions to the problem being addressed by their committee.
Dr. Meenaz Kassam, faculty advisor of AUSMUN and Associate Professor of International Studies, said, "The AUSMUN is a powerful life-changing experience for the students who come together prepared with their research to listen, negotiate, collaborate and then offer solutions to some of the world's most pressing problems. I have been with the program from its inception and have watched it grow both in numbers and sophistication. This program is an important step toward achieving our vision of resolving social issues through collaboration and educating for world peace." Dr. Kassam noted that previous AUSMUN participants have had such positive experiences at AUS that a number applied to and were accepted to study at the university.