Students from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences attend the annual SAIMUN Conference held in Nairobi

By CTW Team, Michelle Oyiolo, and Mercy Cheptoo

Two students from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Mercy Cheptoo and Michelle Oyiolo took part in this year’s edition of the Sub-Saharan International Model United Nations (SAIMUN), a five-day international relations simulation for both high school and university/college students that is held annually at the United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON), Gigiri. Students who attend the conference get a chance to debate various issues affecting the world. This year, due to the ongoing pandemic, the event was held virtually.

In her comments to CTW, Mercy Cheptoo, who was Sweden’s delegate at the conference noted that the conference was a learning experience for her, as she had no previous experience with Model United Nations and its activities.

“SAIMUN was a learning experience for me. As delegates, we are expected to put together various position papers regarding the issues that were discussed in the duration of the conference. The chairs of DISEC Committee guided us through every step of the conference from General Speakers list, how to raise a motion to writing the resolution,” she said.

“Most of the delegates including me who lacked previous experience in Model United Nations found it really tough to come together to formulate resolutions because what was implemented in one country was hard to implement in another. Despite this challenge we formulated a resolution taking up a social cultural approach towards combating religious discrimination that was centred on the youth. Our resolution passed with 89% votes for, 9% against and 2% abstaining, as a result of which I was granted Honourable Mention by the chairs,” she noted.

On her end, Michelle Oyiolo, who was Danish delegate at the conference, noted that participating in the conference, while nerve wracking, was an exciting experience for her.

“I went into the SAIMUN 2021 conference nervous, but excited to have the experience. I have always enjoyed a spirited debate and I knew that it would be a wonderful opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and exchange ideas on how to resolve important issues facing our societies. The experience brought me out of my comfort zone and forced me to consider the big picture and the long-term effects of decisions made today. The UNDP committee was fortunate enough to have enthusiastic and encouraging chairs who were very patient in training us and making the experience as enjoyable as possible. I appreciated the different points of view and enjoyed the interactions I was able to have with the different members of the committee,” she said.

“Collaborating with my fellow member of the USIU IMCC club, Esther Gichini, who was representing Egypt, and working with our fellow delegates within the UNDP committee, we were able to construct a draft resolution on how to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations within our society. I gained some confidence in public speaking when, as sponsor of the resolution, I had to read and defend it before the entire general assembly. Despite being nervous, my presentation proved successful and was passed in the General Assembly with 93% of the votes for, 6% against and 1% abstaining,” she noted.

“Denmark was also named as the best delegate of the committee, which means that I will be attending next year’s conference for free. It was a wonderful experience and I gained a deeper understanding of how important it is to have open discourse in solving the problems facing the world,” she added.

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