The Start of COMUN 2021
Driven by Corona induced anxiety and the stress of tackling the logistical conundrum that would become this year’s Colombo Model United nations, the waiting process to be given the green light for this venture was positively nail-biting.
The end of last year’s conference left me with a feeling of hopefulness and excitement for this year’s program, already having planned the committees and outlined novel facets, inspired by the numerous suggestions and constructive criticism that I received to better the conference. However, the pandemic also quite literally crushed these aspirations into a messy pile of confusion, worry and a rather unfortunate sense of pulsating impossibility. However, after the virus seemed to soften its blow and slow its vigorous rampage (or what I would like to describe it as) during the summer, allowing OSC to be able to entertain the possibility of having COMUN this year, I began to regain my earlier composure and take the aspects that I hoped to implement from my mental recycle bin and began to rejuvenate my passion and excitement. However, this is not to discourage from the tedious and nerve-racking pockets in the process of drafting a COMUN 2021 proposal for the Head of School, as I constantly seemed to doubt myself and cloud my deeply entrenched passion for this activity in a fog of disarray and dis-heartedness.
While collaborating with Sanya in writing a proposal; detailing the changes made to the technicalities of conference with regards to adhering to the COVID protocol that OSC follows and to create a safe environment for all participants, I had frequent meetings with Mrs. Kleiss and Mr. Lundin (Faculty Advisor), choosing some loose dates at which to set the interviews for the executive committee and simply familiarizing ourselves with the process. Although armed with a multi-pronged perspective; being a delegate, Deputy Head of IPC and a member of Secretariat – through four years of experience, and the consolidation of sharing similar experience in international conferences, my initial confidence was reduced to a sliver as the pressure of managing a virtual and Zoom-mandated conference seemed to be too daunting a task to achieve. However, I maintained a steady mind and a capacity for new ideas when persevering and showing commitment to my CAS experience. My hard work and effective collaboration transcended my debilitating feelings of uncertainty as we received the greenlight to move ahead with gathering our EXCO.
Closely following the greenlight was my appointment as the Secretary General of COMUN 2020; an accumulation of my determination, hard work and experience. The moment that this very personal but almost ‘unattainable’ mantel was passed to me, I was propelled into a frenzy of excitement and humility, however almost immediately coupled with anxiety on how to manage this incredibly daunting role. Being born and bred as a MUN’er, I always viewed leading one of the largest and most poignant conferences in South Asia as something that was scribbled on the tattered ends of my Wishlist: almost as an after though as I genuinely romanticized this position to be unreachable, especially to me or what I perceived myself as: a mediocre debater and a once terrified victim of stage fright, thereby identifying areas of strengths and personal growth. Conditioning myself with popular misconceptions of the Secretary General being a position required one to be the best debater, best organizer and best policy implementer, I realized how acutely juvenile I was being. Understanding my childlike perspectivation of the role, I managed to shake off the impression of not being ‘good enough’ to deserve the position and instead concentrated feelings of assurance and confidence; in the supportive environment that was at my disposal but most importantly, myself. I was unbelievably grateful for this opportunity– an amalgam of experiences and personalized thoughts on each conference I attended flitting about my memory just itching to materialize into ideas and tangible change. Thankfully, something that both grounded and reassured me was that Sanya, a fellow peer who shares the similar goal of making COMUN 2021 reach its fullest potential, would be consolidating me as a form of support system, along with my faculty advisor and the rest of OSC administration.
After establishing the finality of conference this year, I pushed for the creation of the theme as this was not just a contextual incentive to invite peers from across the canvass of Sri Lankan international schools to be captivated about and apply for positions, but actualized my direction for conference. I wanted the theme for this year to obviously encapsulate the pandemic in both a literal but also a metaphorical sense; alluding to theme of dealing with panic rather than concentrating on the pandemic throughout the different committees in an effort to avoid cloning, but also host a capacity to address other pertinent issues such as the BLM movement and rejuvenation of the Me Too social movement, while allowing for a space to facilitate discussion regarding domestic issues of Uyghur Muslims in China and Indo-Pakistan military tensions. Thus, understanding the need to be ambiguous and entertain the freedom to explore a variety of issues currently plaguing the world, I wanted to craft a topic that would not allow for such but directly sponsor debate. Deciding upon, ‘Informed Action in Times of Crisis’, after suggesting it to Sanya and Mr. Lundin, the full potential of the theme was mapped out in a systematic structure in the form of different committees.
Traditionally, every year a ‘specialized committee’ that is directly related to the theme is substituted with the one created prior, maintaining Security Council and the Economic-Socio Committee as COMUN staples. However, due to the chaotic and superfluous nature of 2020’s political climate, I decided upon having two spec coms; World Health Organization (WHO) to focalize attentions on the pandemics and topics relating, and United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), as the women’s liberation movement had fought for the news headlines; with the movement exploding around the world after a brief hiatus from the world stage. Demonstrating engagement with issues of global significance, the latter development being an incredibly delicate and intimate subject matter as I’ve continuously been a staunch advocate for women’s rights in a localized setting. However, before sending the emails to the other faculty advisors with the EXCO application document and a rulebook outlining the changes for COMUN, I acknowledge that these were flexible and subject to the executive committee’s thoughts.
The immediate momentum of this conference sprang into action the moment this venture was ‘greenlighted’ by the OSC administration and gave me a clear foreshadowing of the energy and passion disseminated by the exco and secretariat to come. I am hopeful, yes with some reservations, but that was only natural and in fact healthy to some extent. I am looking forward to introducing myself to my counterparts and moving forward in the progression of COMUN; hoping to mend some discrepancies within our constitution and uplift the morale that depleted in the initial stages of this program. Demonstrating that challenges have been undertaken,I now realize that with clarity of mind and action, complemented by a strong support system, makes even a daunting task such as leading Colombo Model United Nations, glimmer with possibility and an undercurrent of optimism!