We Are Back.
By: Nabila Elassar
Dear followers, alumni, parents, and beloved friends,
This is a personal letter that I am writing to every one of you, to share the story behind our choice to pause UA’s conferences in 2020-2021.
United Ambassadors is an organization whose work and conferences touched the lives of thousands of students worldwide. Our mission is to empower every young person to apply leadership skills to propel positive change.
But for me, it was more than an organization. It was my purpose, as well as my personal, and professional mission. It was the outcome of years of tireless work, passion, and dedication. The conferences and programs held had served thousands of students worldwide, and included multiple new simulations developed directly with UN experts and officials. These included the Commission on the Status of Women, the Human Rights Council, the ECOSOC HLPF, the International Court of Justice, as well as real-life strategy forum titled MUN SDG_Action committee.
In January 2020, the news was telling us that the virus spreading worldwide, was not about to disappear any time soon. In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic.
The escalating situation hit me with the realization that our flagship conference: UA-MUNC New York would have to be canceled. I was devastated. But the proper decision for the summer of 2020 was clear. No in-person conferences were possible.
After accepting that realization, I began to search for any possible silver linings of this global pandemic, and slowly, rationally weigh our options.
The only options available to us were to either start online conferences in 2020-2021 or, to wait until the pandemic has subsided, to return to in-person conferences. Both options had pros, cons, and associated risks.
As I weighed the options, I recalled some of my most recent experiences. In June-July 2019, I’d graduated from Stanford University with a Master’s in Education, and endless dreams on how I wished to apply my learnings.
Later that year, from August-November, I worked at the United Nations Headquarters with the team creating the UN Pavillion at the Dubai 2020 Expo.
Both of these experiences were profoundly impactful to my outlook on how United Ambassadors can grow in the future, and the skills I could harness to serve it best. The combination of these two experiences is what led to my decision.
Instead of dedicating additional time and effort to creating online conferences in 2020-2021, I chose to use this as a time of personal growth. I decided to pursue a career in technology while planning for the ideal time to relaunch United Ambassador's conferences and ensure they were set up for complete success.
In May 2020, I joined the Microsoft Education team and began to expand my horizons in the education space, and my expertise as an education consultant. My first role was to advise U.S. schools and district IT leaders on how they can leverage technology to achieve digital transformation. I got to witness first-hand how the right technology, enabled schools that relied on remote learning through the peak months of the pandemic, to achieve better learning outcomes, and adequately support their students and teachers. In 2021, I moved into a global education strategy role, and am currently driving the global go-to-market strategy for Microsoft’s classroom and learning tools.
The past two years away from United Ambassadors have been very difficult. However, they were necessary. Both due to the persistent global travel challenges that surround COVID-19, and its variations, like Omicron, but also, because of the time constraints that come with the first 1-2 years working at a major technology company, which are notoriously known to have the steepest learning curve.
That being said, United Ambassadors served a unique role in the global Model UN education sphere. The curriculum we built, refined and perfected over the years, that offers an accurate simulation of the United Nations, including new and unique councils and committees. This is valuable knowledge that deserves to be taught, shared, and passed on.
The time away also gave me an opportunity to envision newer, bigger horizons for what the impact of United Ambassadors could look like. With the pressure of constant approaching conferences removed, I was able to imagine other future possibilities.
UA’s mission is to empower every young person on the planet to apply leadership skills to drive positive change. Our educational conferences and workshops will continue to offer the world’s most accurate simulation of the United Nations and will be offered online and in person. Our hope is to inspire, empower and encourage young MUN participants to achieve their full potential, and propel them towards the best future opportunities.
If we can inspire one person, we have succeeded.
I look forward to seeing you at United Ambassadors future events.
Founder, United Ambassadors.