Let the gavel fall: McMUN 2016 opens with pipers and applause
Loud cheers could be heard around the ballroom of Le Centre Sheraton. As each school name circulated on the screens, the delegations tried to out-do each other with spirit and presence; the competition seemed to have already begun!
The ceremony was opened by Kaitlyn Bowman, president of the International Relations Students’ Association of McGill. Bagpipes and applause sounded as everyone stood up to welcome the 2016 Secretariat to the room. After a moving performance of the national anthem of Canada by McGill’s own Effusion A Cappella group, the delegates took their seats to hear Marta Canneri, this year’s Secretary-General, deliver her opening speech. She incited the delegates to think about the reasons to do Model UN and what it was they were gathered in Montreal for. For most delegates, she claimed, Model UN is a fundamental search for more, “a thirst for understanding, for learning, and experience beyond the classroom”. She elaborated on how these kind of conferences end up shaping the participants’ understanding of the world and molding them as future leaders, ultimately allowing them to shape the world itself. For the Secretary-General, the feeling that one can make a difference and the knowledge that one can leave a mark is of utmost importance.
Next, Chargée d’affaires Ginny Tan introduced the keynote speaker of the evening, Captain Aysha Al Hamili. Capt. Al Hamili has headed the Permanent Mission of the UAE on the ICAO Council since 2009 and is the youngest Permanent Representative the council has ever seen. Apart from her education at City University London and Zayed University in Abu Dhabi, her impressive resume includes her licenses for Private Pilot and Airline Transport Pilot, as well as being the head of UAE’s General Civil Aviation Air Transport Department. She was in charge of countless bilateral air service negotiations in that function.
In her speech, Capt. Al Hamili told her story of how strong dreams, clear goals and yearly resolutions helped her overcome any challenges on her way to become the first female pilot in the UAE. She encouraged delegates to get as educated as possible: “Education is the weapon that will carry you through this life” were words of advice from her childhood that she has held onto since. In her view, education can open any doors and enable anyone to do what they love, which she believes is of the utmost importance.
Capt. Al Hamili concluded with strong words of advice for any delegates who dream of becoming a part of the “United Nations Family”. Facing challenges is normal and a constant in anyone’s life, she told the assembly. While these may vary at every stage in one’s life and career, she continued, the only challenge that can stop one from achieving one’s goals is oneself. She also stressed that change starts now, with the younger generation, and that it has to come from within.
After this powerful speech, G Clay Miller, Director of Public Relations, introduced the theme for this year’s McMUN (Gender Equality) and announced the winner of the MIR Paper Competition as Ms. Rebecca Lamb of the College of William&Mary. His deputy, Stephanie Claxton, followed up an introduction on the charity for “Fem International”, a Montreal-based organization aiming at promoting gender equality through entrepreneurship training and by stimulating volunteering around the city.
Closing the ceremony was the Secretary-General, who took to the podium one last time to gavel in McMUN 2016!
Photo credits to McMUN/Philip Nguyen-Powanda