COMUN EDITION: INTERVIEWS
Delving headfirst in a pool of hundred something applications was a riveting task, fueled by my surprise in the sheer interest towards COMUN and the support of Colombo society. Scrolling through my emails, my eyes rushing past white blocks lightening up my screen, similarly titled “COMUN EXCO APPLICATION” made this conference and my position all the more real. I was so appreciative of the interest and even more hopeful for the weeks to come.
Communicating with Sanya and Mr. Lundin, we decided upon making a deadline for the interviews and worked on creating a timetable for the candidates, thereby planning and initiating a CAS experience. The experience of seeing so many applications had a di-pronged effect; reminding me of the importance of COMUN as well as urging me to stay focused to design a successful conference. The work of contacting each candidate and asking them to straighten out any discrepancies within their application, the words blurred into each and other and soon the individualistic candidate merged into a collective entity, both urging me to stay motivated and also letting thoughts of self-doubts run loose within the soon crumbling confines of my head. As I sensed, the work not just overwhelmed me but began to manifest itself in other parts of my life, threatening my otherwise structured work ethic and affecting my school work. This drastic shift; healthy effort transforming into exertion, implored me to delegate my work better. Giving a little less than half of the interviews to Sanya to manage and demonstrating the benefits of working collaboratively, my attitude towards the applications rapidly changed, equivocating to me being excited to open my email, looking forward to feel the strong wave of reassurance of seeing yet another application. This comforting rhythm continued since the deadline (which unfortunately had to be altered twice due to the mismanagement of the forms on part of the other school’s faculty advisors) and soon came to interviews themselves.
I was never an early riser, hating how much the sun paraded its glorious rays through glass rectangles of my balcony, quietly boasting of its prettiness whereas I often was peacefully cowering myself under the dark enthralls of my duvet. However, the morning of my interviews I was ecstatic, bustling with energy and definitely not subdued by my habitually feelings of droopiness. Getting dressed in a suit, I almost laughed at myself standing in the mirror… A year ago, I was getting dressed in a similar suit and heading to the interview room at school. Now I’m getting dressed to sit in a chair in my room for ten hours. The irony couldn’t have been more poignant.
Giving myself a loose pep-talk about how I’ll probably tire in the first couple of hours but how I will have to maintain my resolve for the sake of conducting fair interviews, recognizing the ethics of my action, I slumped on my chair, started the meeting and looked at the time. A minute before my first interview began.
The further I went down the schedule, the less concrete of an impression I began to hold of the previous candidate and the further it worried me; that I was being unfair to the applicants that were penciled in for later. However, to limit this possibility, I pushed myself to take extensive notes on each candidate and on the chance that I felt that the latter wouldn’t help, I would record the interview to discuss later. However, while my energy levels were on a negative since the first twenty interviews, my confidence in how I behaved and managed myself increased. In my first interview, although I parroted the lines that I mentally prepared myself for and the same lines that I repeated for each interview, I could read the uncertainty in my voice and so could the interviewee. I knew I had to establish a respectable and strong dynamic and while shifting the responsibility to the President of the General Assemblies (PGA) would have done so, I needed to determine myself as leader, and more importantly as one that can recover from a mistake. I’ve always prided myself on being an ambassador of my principles and being true to my strengths and admitting my weakness play key roles in this process. Thus, I hoped to practice this by stopping a moment during the interview, collecting myself, and moving on; focusing on exuding an air of confidence but also humility.
Soon this mantra became the norm and I repeated it whenever I felt vulnerable and in a weakened position, thus showing perseverance and commitment to a CAS experience. Towards the halfway point of the interviews, I ascertained that the applicants that I were interviewing were ones that predominantly ruled the committees and were awarded the titles of ‘Best Delegate’ each year. Naturally I not only felt threatened, but in fact, belittled with their presence, even sensing the atmosphere of the meetings being warped and just confusing. Do I have the right to ask these questions to candidates that hold the title of ‘best delegate’, when I myself have no such awards? Does this meeting somehow make me a hypocrite? My comforting mantra was no match for these seeds of reluctance and skepticism, as I was utterly dumbfounded and felt out of place. As I feared, my internal struggle was presented visually as I stuttered and stammered often apologized, urging my PGA, who was also more experienced that I in matters of committee, to take charge. As I stared in the camera, still listening intently, the loud noise within me drowned the coherency of the interview as my paradigm of me being able to successfully run a conference, unraveled. However, towards the middle of the interview, I began to remind myself of the hundred and more candidates who depended on me to maintain my sanity and champion on in the face of adversity. Using the promise, I made to the Secretary Generals that preceded me, I began to rejuvenate my being. Although not interrupting the current interview and allowing it to run its natural course, I demonstrated that challenges have been undertaken developing skills in the process when I took more control and responsibility for the rest of the interviews and although asking the PGA and the Head of Operations, Sanya, to weigh in, I largely led the way.
The excruciatingly sharp rays of the morning sun were gone, the blanket of clouds had swept over the purple and pink, and the moon was suspended in silence. The wrinkles and craters that were imbued on its surface mirrored my exhaustion, while I said my goodnight’s to Sanya and the PGA and closed my laptop. The soft thud of my screen acting as a trigger that caused my body to crumble onto my bed and close my eyes (that were then pulsating with overuse and tiredness). I tried to reflect back on the day’s events but found my mind to be tripping on itself, misplacing memories and hiding some all-together. I knew they were all safely stored and more importantly, I understood that despite facing some problems, I eventually dragged myself out of the pit of self-doubt and insecurity, and faced the light. Identifying my own strengths and areas for personal growth, I knew that I had a long way to go in the actually planning of the conference, but this interview process materialized my dreams into something real and I was proud of myself and of my team that made it possible.