Sabina is a second year student on BA (Hons) French and English Literature. In March 2018 she attended the Change the World Model United Nations (CWMUN) Conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Here’s more about Sabina’s experience in New York!
Why did you decide to take up the opportunity abroad?
I decided to take part in the Change the World Model United Nations (CWMUN) 2018 in New York City to learn more about the proceedings of the United Nations and to improve my public speaking skills. When I first heard about this opportunity, I completely ignored it because I thought that I would be completely out of my depth. However, the organisation extended the deadline and language students were encouraged to take part, so I applied. I was successful and with a scholarship as well as a Distant Horizons Award I represented a country in a committee with thousands of other university students at the heart of the United Nations Headquarters.
How did you know that the opportunity was for you? What country did you represent and how did you prepare for the conference?
I actively listen and read different news in order to keep-up-to-date with socio-political affairs that affect us all. Representing Slovakia in the International Atomic Energy Agency at the conference encouraged me to thoroughly research nuclear energy, highlight the threat of nuclear weapons and the emphasised the importance of creating and maintaining diplomatic ties with North Korea and Iran.
Please comment on your overall experience. What did you learn, what was the most challenging thing?
It was an honour and a privilege to take part in discussions at the headquarters of the United Nations. Although it was only a model conference, there were strict rules that we had to follow. Nevertheless, CWMUN provided me the opportunity to discuss, argue and support issues that are relevant today. I met so many new people and learned more about other Westminster students whilst in New York City. As I expected, I was completely out of my comfort zone but I learned to be more concise and succinct when speaking to others, as well as whilst replying to proposals. It was interesting to learn that overall we share the same stance on the discussed topics but due to the wording of our resolution document and differences in approach, it was difficult to vote and agree on one solution. Attending the conference, debating and trying to come up with a resolution proved challenging and made me realise that the stress and intensity of talks that I have experienced is only a fraction of what occurs in real peace talks. Overall, I really enjoyed the experience and learned a lot from it.
What graduate attributes and transferrable skills have you gained or enhanced as a result of this experience?
Engaging in debates using officially certified research and conducting myself in a professional manner were the essentials when participating in the CWMUN conference. I supported and challenged people’s stances on the discussed topics and took part in many negotiations in order to come up with a realistic resolution before the set deadline. I felt like a valuable team member in a large organisation that is resilient and adamant on uniting against a common issue through dialogue. I gained confidence when speaking in public and expressing my country’s point of view on specific topics. I had to adapt and represent my country, Slovakia, as best as I could based on official research and the proposal paper I have created.
What top tips or advice would you give other students considering a similar opportunity?
With the university’s help, I was able to visit the continent I have always dreamed about and felt empowered when discussing issues that affect the world. Be prepared to conduct a lot of research in order to greatly benefit from the conference. Due to the fact, that I completed my preparation way before the conference, I was able to actively participate in it and discuss issues with other participants.
What message would you like to pass on to students who are considering taking part in international opportunities?
Just try and apply for any opportunity abroad, even if you really believe that you may not be accepted. I challenged myself and the result was very rewarding. Also, keep reading your emails from the Outward Mobility Team and regularly check your university email!