After the learning experiences, I have had in the two years I have participated in COMUN (Colombo Model United Nations) I plan on pursuing my interests in MUN further. For the coming year, I am going to be part of the secretariat in the position of Head Of Operations. Taking into account all my experiences and knowledge I am going to be helping with the operations for the MUN conference next year alongside the other secretariat members including Sanya as the secretary-general.
We have had two Sec meetings till now and we have made a lot of decisions for the conference including the theme of this year’s conference which is going to be “Reimagining Multilateralism; reducing uncertainty” which is a really important theme due to all the uncertainty in the world due to the covid-19 pandemic as well as the significance of the unity between all nations in order to deal with the virus quickly and efficiently. We also decided the committees we want to keep for next year which is an important part of the conference as they need to appropriate for the theme and the relevance to the situation that is persisting around the world apart for problems relating to the pandemic.
Before the lockdown started me and my family would take walk’s on the walking path that has been built around my house. We take around 2-3 laps and going both ways on the path is approximately 2.5 km. We were in a routine and this really helped us maintain some sort of activity even when there were a lot of restrictions on traveling.
Something I have been doing regularly during a lockdown or no lockdown is yoga. I have my yoga classes every Tuesday and Friday and during the covid-19 pandemic, they are being done virtually. We do a range of poses including balancing poses and other poses that encourage full-body movements like the suryanamaskar. At the beginning of last year, I was only able to do 3-4 rounds but now I have made a lot of improvements and I can hold each pose for at least 27 seconds. Our classes started by holding every pose for 5 counts and then our teacher would eventually increase the number of counts. This not only helped strengthen muscles but also be mindful of our body and the importance of moving different joints that are otherwise inactive during the whole day. I have depicted learning outcomes 1, 2, and 4 because I have identified areas I need improvement in and worked on those over the last year, and also learned new skills that help me get better and more active. At the same time, I have been committed to this activity and I am constantly learning new things throughout the course of my class.
After our Christmas presents and crafts drive, this is was our second drive for this year. Due to the covid-19 pandemic, all the resources at the CCC House ( transit house for children with cancer) have been limited, and one of these resources was diapers for the children as that is a never-ending requirement. Single-use diapers can be really harmful to the environment therefore in order to be sustainable our diaper drive also encouraged students, teachers, and all our community members to bring in reusable diapers that are available in the market. We highly encouraged all our service members for Hope For Kids also to only pick up reusable diapers if they were able to find them. Understanding the number of places these were available was really few but everyone put in their best effort to find these online. We were taking into account learning outcomes 6 and 7 as we were being mindful of the issues present in the environment and we tried mitigating it in our choices by putting out posters to encourage Sustainable and Reusable Diapers.
The diaper drive had several stages to it. The first stage was promoting and planning where were we going to promote it. Primary School has always been a major contributor to all our drives therefore we emailed primary homeroom teachers for permission to join their homeroom and explain to all the students our goals and why were we doing it. We wanted to spread awareness of children’s cancer while we were doing it so in the future our community is aware of our long-term goals as well. After getting approvals from homeroom teachers we made a schedule for all our members, and we went to homerooms in pairs. We virtually promoted the diaper drive in primary for a week, after which we sent out our posters to the entire school community through the daily bulletin, newsletters, and homeroom teachers. Doing this virtually required a lot of coordination as we were unable to collect things that were dropped off and since none of the classes had teachers we had to plan how things would be dropped and collected therefore we emailed the security team, and along with help from our service supervisor’s, we placed a box near the guard’s room where people were able to drop the diapers off. Through this, I demonstrated learning outcomes 2 and 3 as we came across challenges within our plan but we were able to successfully complete our food drive using our communication skills with people present on the school campus. There was a lot of planning required in order to avoid any overlap while going to homerooms, creating posters, and sending out emails to promote our drive.
We successfully completed our drive as we collected 563 diapers by the time we completed and these were all delivered to the CCC house with the help of our service supervisors who arranged transportation that dropped the diapers off.
Sri Lanka has some amazing areas that can be explored. The rainforests here have some amazing flora and fauna. The two rainforests I visited over two weekends were Sinharaja and Kenneliya.
My first trip was to Kenneliya on January 16th where we went for a 3km trail where we were able to see different types of frogs, medicinal plants, and some fascinating carnivorous plants. On our way we had 3 stops, the first one being a bat cave which was really dark but since we were a little late all the bats had flown away but we still got to go through a small stream with our flashlights in our hand to navigate the way. After we came out of the cave it took us about 30 mins to reach the second stop which was a waterfall. We were advised not to go into it as there was a heavy water flow that day. Along with that, there was a lot of moss that made the surface really slippery. We still went up to it and took a few pictures around it before we headed back up and back on the route for our third stop.
The route for our third stop was really interesting as we passed a broken bridge and under the bridge was a river where we stopped for a few moments to admire the different fishes that gathered around us. From the bridge, the road ahead had many canopies that blocked the sunlight until we approached a giant tree which was our last stop for the day. The trip was exciting and on our way back we even saw some purple-faced langur’s after which we concluded our trip and headed back to Colombo just to go back to another rainforest the next weekend.
The weekend after that we went to the Singaraja rain forest where we saw and heard a lot of birds around us and on the trail we did. In Sinharaja we were staying near a river and got to down several times again to find some really beautiful fishes around us.
The next morning after reaching there we took a guide and went on the trail just to find some birds and look at the plant life around the area. The beginning of the forest area was paved before we saw a large gate from where the path to the jungle started. It was a long walk before we spotted the red face malkoha. Sadly it was under too many branches so we could not get any pictures of it. We also saw a blue magpie that was there around us for quite a long time. Early that morning there was a lot of rain, therefore, we could hear sounds but none of the birds were seen. On the way back to where we were staying we saw quite a few imperial green pigeons sitting on the branches of one tree.
The trails in the rainforest of Sri Lanka have not only been a great way to get active but also learn a lot about the nature and different birds and animals around us. I have been taking a keen interest in the birds of Sri Lanka as I have spotted so many different ones in Colombo itself.
COMUN 2021 was completely online this year. It was three days of learning, creating, and a lot of listening for me this year. The first two days are where we go to the committee we picked but on the last day, we write a group article where we collaborate with people who were from the same agency.
Day 1 and 2 – For Day 1 and Day 2 I was writing an Editorial piece and a News Article respectively. Since the first day of the conference involved delegates giving their statements on their country’s stance and then moving into moderated caucus where a lot of sub-topics related to the mandate of the WHO were discussed. Therefore for my article, I wrote down a lot of the stances that were spoken about showing perspectives for and against the topic and the propaganda my news agency sputnik supports. Taking into account the feedback the chair’s for IPC gave me in practice debate 2 I wanted to provide the readers a broader perspective and still stick to the views my news agency would support (LO1). I did this by taking down a lot of quotes but changing the perspective in which they were taken, for example, if a country’s views did not support the political views my agency had, I just framed them in a more negative way while not giving false information related to the pandemic. Since I was in WHO for the first two days it was important that I was not deviating from the truth because the pandemic is a worldwide crisis and most countries are facing similar problems that cannot be changed (LO6). Day 2 was when the resolutions for the WHO were written and discussed. This is what I discussed in the article as well. I included all the points of discussion in the resolution and why they were important to be discussed in the conference (LO1). There were a lot of topics that were covered throughout Day 2 and usually the voting on resolutions occurs on the same day and I would report on that as well but the time ran out, therefore, that was left for Day 3.
Day 3 – On this day we were doing crisis situations and the committee we were reporting on was changed and we were collaborating with people from different schools who had the same agency. I reached out to my partner for the article and we shared a document. We allocated different sections of the article and then at the end, we brainstormed more things to add, delete, or edit in order to make the article coherent and consistent (LO5). Since the conference was very long we even decided to take notes on different crisis situation and updates. Therefore I would take notes for a 5 crisis situation or updates and then my partner did the same. In this way not only was our workload divided but at the end when we were organizing everything we had two different writing styles and perspectives that came together (LO5).
Overall it was a completely new experience and I really enjoyed collaborating with someone who was experienced. I gained a lot of insight from them on several things that we could do in an article. My research and writing skills definitely became really helpful as I had learned these from investigating journalism that we covered in school.
Learning outcomes in this post –
LO1 – Identify own strengths and develop areas for growth
LO5 – Demonstrate the skills and recognize the benefits of working collaboratively
LO6 – Demonstrate engagement with issues of global significance
This year for our MUN conference I chose to do the International Press Committee (IPC) where we report upon other committee agendas based upon the new agency we pick or that is allotted to us. I picked Sputnik which is a Russian news agency and the reason I chose that was because I wanted to explore new biases since I had a vast knowledge about the view news agencies like BBC or Times of India have because I have read them before. This challenged me to explore different political views, new writing styles and tones, and also the structures in which the articles were written. For IPC we write two types of articles one is an editorial and the other is a news article. Editorials often include the editor’s opinion using their agencies’ bias and tone whereas a news article covers a specific event giving the facts of what occurred. The committee I am going to be reporting upon as Sputnik is the WHO committee.
The agenda for WHO during the practice debate was the question of robotics and artificial intelligence utilized in medical surgery and the implications of forthcoming technologies in redesigning the health sphere. For practice debate 2 we were told by the IPC chairs for that debate we were going to be writing an editorial piece on the topic. Editorial piece are opinion based articles and for MUN you have to include a lot of your news agencies propaganda. Sputnik supports all the actions taken by Russia therefore throughout the conference I took a lot of quotes from the delagate of Russia inorder to provide evidence for the arguments I put in my article. I also took upon myself to do extra research even though that was not required, because I got a lot of background information on the topic itself therefore being well informed about AI and it’s consquences on different countries.
After the second practice debate, I learnt a lot from the whole process as we also got feedback back from the chairs. I did really well overall especially since it was my first time taking part as a press delgate. The chairs scored me a 24/30 and told me to add quotes from other delagtes in the debate as well so that readers can get an overview of other countries and their views as well. I have taken into account their feedback and I will apply this for the conference coming up.
Over the past week, my mom and I have been visiting different parks around Colombo and have found one where we were able to rent cycles. The days I do not go to a jogging track I go to the gym to either play squash or do some other form of cardio activities. Last Wednesday I went cycling around a 3km loop and I did the loop thrice it was a really nice change because I have been unable to go cycling for a long time. It was really fun to do the 9km’s because it was really cloudy that day and then we also had a slight drizzle which made the weather really pleasant.
This morning we were fortunate to get some time from school in order to be active and since the cycling track is pretty far I went down to play squash. I have started playing squash for a few months and the reason I enjoy it is because it is not necessary to have a partner to be able to practice. I started off with some stretches to get me warmed up and then I played for about 30 mins. I am unable to hit all backhand shots therefore I kept challenging myself to play more of those today.
In the month of December, the Hope For Kids team did a lot of different actions to compensate for everything we do every year during Christmas at the CCC house for the cancer patients. Kenji and I started the month by planning the things we wanted to do for the children and one of them was sending the CCC house what they required in terms of food essentials. We got a list of the number of items we needed to get along with what items had to be bought like milk and sugar.
One of our main focuses for hope for kids also is to bring out the creative side in the children at the CCC house and therefore we do a lot of craft and art activities with them. After the whole group discussed several ideas we decided to focus on 3 Christmas crafts which were a Christmas tree, a Christmas ornament, and snowflakes. We then divided everyone into three groups with each group having at least 1 Sinhala speaker who could give the voice over for the video so that we could communicate effectively with the children. Each person in a group was assigned a different role with each person doing the craft, editing, or giving the voiceover.
After we had a list of the food essentials, we asked all groups for the list of materials the children would require to complete the crafts. After having the lists ready we picked a day, and Kenji and I along with our supervisors Ms.Tanuja and Mr.Darren went to get those items.
While we bought all the materials that needed to be packed at the same time in our sessions on Thursday we continued to work on the video and since I decided I will be editing the video for the Christmas tree group I got the videos and the voice-overs from Pep and Thalal and Anjali prepared the script for the order the video clips went in and then helped pick a song for the background. After creating the videos, the videos were uploaded on youtube and the link was sent to the parents.
Christmas is never complete without some presents. Even though we were unable to go and shop for the present we were very fortunate since the owners of a toy shop sent us pictures etc. and they had it delivered to school. All of these items including food, presents, and craft materials were packed from school and sent to the children before Christmas.
This year since we are online and we cannot meet face to face the teachers for the yearbook have come up with various ways for all of us to share our ideas. Since we started off a little late this year we directly got into discussing themes for the yearbook and to do so we all wrote our different ideas on the padlet that was created. After doing so we all voted on which theme would be the best to reflect everything that has been gone in 2020. Someone came up with a brilliant idea of masquerade and we started discussing more on this theme. Masquerade is like a hidden message since this year has been all about masks. After a lot of thought and brainstorming, we had to change our theme to virtually together because there were not a lot of different sub-themes we could have been done with Masquerade. Every year while we have an overarching theme for the yearbook we also do smaller themes within that for the different sections (primary school, secondary school, events, etc.) that are there.
As we have decided our theme that is virtually together, in the following sessions we started deciding our fonts and sub-themes which are an equally important part of the yearbook. One thing that often does not seem important is fonts, while they might just seem like a tiny part of the yearbook these are what tie the pictures and the theme together. Each section has a different font and theme and this year our subthemes are going to be based on different applications or web conferencing app and platforms that have been utilized not only during school hours but also when teachers and students are on their personal time.
After all of this, we also distributed and selected pages we all wanted to do and I decided to do the staff pages because for the past 2 years I have been doing the student grade level pictures therefore I thought I would get to learn new skills and new templates that I have not worked with before.
On Friday which was October 30th, Kenji, Ms.Tanuja, and I met for our first meeting this year for Hope For Kids. In the meeting, we covered points regarding how service might look in the coming year and we brainstormed a list of possible activities that can be done even during DLP( distance learning program). A few points we touched upon were awareness videos and videos to entertain the children at the CCC house. The CCC house is a transit home for children who are facing cancer. During our Brainstorm session, we also made a list of the struggles we might have while doing those activities so that we are prepared for the issues that might arise in the future. We also decided that this year we should also start focusing on cancer as a problem in the whole country and spread this message among our school community.
After this Kenji and I started to discuss what were the main things we needed to include for this service video and we listed down three main sections one was the introduction, then a section with Ms.Tanuja (service supervisor) speaking, and last was an interview with past service leaders. To get started on Friday we finished writing our script which included research about cancer in Sri Lanka, the interview questions, and what this service group has done in the past. Once we finished writing the script we reached out to our past service leaders asking them if they were willing to participate in the video. On Monday Kenji and I shot our parts of the video on zoom and after a couple of tries, we finally got it done. We went through the old pictures that we had when we visited the CCC house and then picked a few. To consolidate all these different documents I created a shared drive so that it was organized and easy to access all the documents even in the future if we needed them. Kenji finished editing the video and then uploaded it onto Youtube. This video has been used on the google form that was sent out, to help students make their choice of which service they want to be.