COMUN 2021: Finale
For the past four years, participating and leading structure debate after-school activity every Monday and Tuesday for the past four years and applying these skills against other delegates in a mass inter-school competition has been the normality. The adrenaline rush that one feels when lifting their placard and completely breaking down their opposition’s speaker’s list speech, transforming tension-filled international relations into a loose reality. This competitive spirit mitigated by the overwhelming sense of camaraderie and sportsmanship witnessed within committee created a balanced educational experience in which I was able to draw skills and resources empirically to apply in varying contexts. I will forever credit Colombo Model United Nations as the source for my new and improved public speaking skills and overall self-confidence when tackling challenging scenarios.
Being the biggest Model UN in the country, I not only feel a lasting sense of accomplishment for being the Secretary General COMUN 2021, but a lingering feeling of hope for the future. I find that COMUN is a splendid opportunity that fosters a sense of confidence within students and hands them the mantle to take charge and create a wonderful program, that not only prepares the youth of Sri Lanka for their future in whatever endeavors that they choose to pursue but instill in them a sense of discipline and professionalism. Being the largest student self-run conference in Sri Lanka, I was shocked at how quickly the conference passed by our calendar. In frenzied excitement, it almost made me overlook the months of hard work and preparation that formed the foundations of this successful conference.
I have been a delegate for two years, an EXCO member for the penultimate year and Secretary General in 2021. Once assuming the mantel for this year’s Model United Nations, I identified my own strengths and areas for personal growth before spearheading the first virtual conference in the history of this twenty seven year institution. Understanding that this year’s conference or rather the durability of COMUN under such tumultuous conditions was being assessed by delegates and faculty advisors alike, I realized the necessity to make COMUN logistically foolproof as well as contextually rich; ensuring a good quality of debate.
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 an impossibility or unattainable, especially to me or what I perceived myself as: a mediocre debater and a once terrified victim of stage fright. 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. As such I championed onwards with my newfound sense of commitment and perseverance to my CAS experience, understanding my limitations while more importantly, celebrating my strengths.
The conference itself was held at the Winchester, the EXCO being divided into their respective committees and segregated within the large conference room. While deciding to live stream the opening and closing ceremonies, I decided to take a more laissez-faire approach to monitoring each committee as I had done during the practice debates to allow time for independent chairing, especially towards the less experienced chairs who hoped to pursue this role for the next year’s conference. However, I presided over the logistical conundrums faced during conference, the largest and most crucial being a minor power cuts during conference. For a complete virtual conference, a power cut or lack of internet seems to the largest caveat, limitation and overall fear of those organizing the MUN. As such, when rectifying the situation by speaking to various managers and even negotiating with the internet company to provide a stable stream of connection, I understood that challenges had been undertaken developing new skills in the process. Being such an experienced COMUN’er, I had placed a limit to how much my social and interactive skills could improve, however I can now fairly claim that my role as Secretary General catalyzed my learning process, furthering my ability to handle myself in a professional and calm situation when in high stress situations.
I felt as if conference itself was quite successful, the quality of debate not having been cheapened due to the debate being over Zoom. Through positive feedback from multiple faculty advisors and running reflection sessions after each conference day, I understood which areas needed to be improved upon and which aspects of conference went well. Through such sessions I understood that the quality of debate which engaged in issues of global significance was not only maintained through conference but exponentially improved after each sessions, thereby satiating everyone’s debate expectations including ones that I held myself.
The success of this conference cannot be only attributed to my leadership but to my effective and hardworking secretariat and executive committee who spent time and effort into making the conference an inclusive, encouraging and safe environment to foster love for debate as well as knowledge of global contexts. Acknowledging the ethics of my actions and understanding that COMUN, albeit being virtual, impacted a vast majority of the Colombo Debating society. Our perseverance in making COMUN 2021 an actuality seemed to cement its presence not only in Sri Lanka but possibly South Asia, and with that legacy I pass the mantel to the Secretary General of COMUN 2022.
My Opening Ceremony Speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11arXwv3k0Y (2:00;00 – 2:06:00)
My Closing Ceremony Speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3Q0mw0gA4A (1:26:00 – 1:31:00)