My name is Tanya Wijesuriya, and I'm a student at The Westminster School, Dubai. Before attending the MUN Summer Leadership Academy at New York University, Abu Dhabi, I'd had no prior experience with MUN aside from a conference held in school in the Security Council, for which there was no training. At the United Ambassadors MUN Academy there was always something exciting and unique happening. Although it was a week long, there wasn't a single slow day at the sessions since there were activities covering a broad range of topics which were interesting to practice and learn about. The workshops covered skills that ranged from negotiation to researching to public speaking and teamwork, and so on. There were activities to practice each skill, two of the most interesting were the 'Champion of poles' challenge - which was a challenging debate in which the same speaker represents both the sides of the argument. It was amusing to see the same speaker contradicting what they said earlier on once they switched sides, but amazing to see how quickly they managed to do it once they had a bit of practice. The second workshop that really stood out was "The Superhero Clash" - where we practiced 'lobbying' (in MUN terms) and teamwork by selecting a superhero or character to represent and forming teams based on our abilities in order to deal with a crisis. The one that I believe I did best at - one of the highlights of my experience - was a public speaking exercise for which we had to speak about any one of the global goals.
Finally, my favorite part was the final conference since I got to apply all the skills I learnt at the academy. Overall, the entire experience was great - there was so much to enjoy aside from the workshops and intensive training we were given as well - and we had amazing trainers so the entire experience in the end was beneficial whilst being enjoyable. The final conference was a great success, which I enjoyed immensely due to how actively I was able to participate in it and apply the skills and knowledge I had learnt through the academy. Prior to the academy training, I had practiced public speaking at a program called "Toastmasters". However, I found that when you are put in an actual MUN conference, you realize there are so many other skills you need, which I was able to develop and apply through the UA MUN Academy on the final conference and will apply in future MUN conferences.
Moreover, after the MUN Academy conference, the staff gave me feedback which I used to improve myself and prepare for the final conference - they provided guidance in every aspect and answered any questions I had and were constantly positive.
And now, I have started an MUN Club called 'MUNsters' for the sixth form students in my school along with two other students (one had attended this academy with me) in which we have been training students to develop their skills and attend MUN conferences and have been sending them as delegates to conferences outside school.
So far we have students as delegates in the AUD MUN, OOIS MUN and hopefully many more in the future. In school, I am looking forward to being an organizer and possibly a chair for 10th grade MUN conference which will be held in a few months. I look forward to attending United Ambassadors conference in New York UN HQ. In conclusion, I was inspired to improve myself as a speaker, get involved with current world issues to find solutions, to attend future conferences and inspire others.