For the 15 British School Muscat (BSM) students who are set to participate in this year’s upcoming Model United Nations Conference in Saint Petersburg, Russia, from March 10-17, it is a very exciting prospect, requiring them to prepare and research thoroughly for the stand they will take and the country’s they are to represent at the event. The students, who will be accompanied by BSM staff members, Deborah El-Alwan and Graham Twigger, will be representing various countries in several committees. The Observer recently spoke to some of the participating students — all of whom are in year 12 — who commented on what they hope to gain from the Conference and how they have prepared for it. Omar Sharawy, aged 17 and originally from Egypt, said, being part of the Disarmament Committee representing Germany, they are concentrating on two main topics — Nato’s involvement in Afghanistan and the naval power of Bric countries (ie Brazil, Russia, India and China, with the main focus being on China). He added, they were not able to choose the topics, but were given the assignments. Further, although they have never met other participants coming in from other countries, they have to make quick alliances in order to see their agenda through. Hence, for the sake of the country you are representing, it is necessary to make these quick alliances so that you gain support and help for your country, noted Omar. With the regard to the research work he had to undertake, he said, his subject is a very topical one and, as such, information is very easy to access — from news reports and programmes. From this he gains the advantages and disadvantages, from his point of view 1330936564312793500 in relation to other countries, and also an understanding of other countries viewpoints. This, he added, allows him to know how to defend his agenda and attack those who are against it. 17-year-old Ashwin Gopakumar, who is originally from India, noted that MUN has become a very important part of his life, as he has been participating in it for the last three years, adding that, it has given him a chance to develop and explore and improve his debating and public speaking skills. Commenting on the previous MUN’s he had participated in, in Turkey as well as two local conferences, he said, the local conferences tend to be a lot more focused as there are fewer broad points of view. On an international level, he continued, because there are so many different countries and schools participating, points of views and opinions are vast. He said, as a member of the Disarmament Committee representing the USA he has to go beyond his personal opinion in order to see it from an American perspective, This is one of the major challenges of the MUN, requiring participants to push themselves to see things from different perspectives, which is great, he said. Pedra Rabiee, 16, is originally from Iran. She said she is taking part in a conference for the first time, and being a person who lacks confidence, this has meant that she has really had to push herself on, which in itself has been a great experience. Not being very good when it comes to public speaking, it is important for her to really motivate herself and meet the challenges, she added. As a member of the Environmental Committee representing Japan, their topic will be on plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean and 1330936627302795500 exploring new types of energy following on from the Fukushima disaster. In this regard, she said, it is imperative that they get their message across, especially as her representative country lies of the Pacific Ocean where the catastrophe took place. Her main hopes from all of this is to gain lots of confidence and new experiences, discover new cultures and meet new people, adding that, she is looking forward to see the Russian ballet and the museum. Going to Russia is actually on her ‘to do list’. Sixteen-year-old Alice Withers, said, she is very excited to go on her first international conference, although she had previously attended regional conferences in her native New Zealand. As a representative of America in the Social, Cultural and Humanitarian Committee they will be dealing with issues related to refugees and drug abuse, adding that both these issues are of interest to her,. She said, she has researched these issues and is glad to be representing America, as it is a big, powerful country and it will be good to have this power at the Conference where it will help to add weight to their cause. There are rules and codes of etiquette that have to be adhered to, which ensures progressive debating. As noted by El-Alwan: MUN allows students to play the roles of diplomats and learn to negotiate and debate in a formal way. The objectives of a MUN Conference are to seek, through negotiations, solutions to the various problems of the world, dealing with economic, social, environmental and cultural issues. The young delegates, in seeking solutions to these problems, can learn to break away from narrow national interests and develop true International co-operation. MUN has played an active role in the school for seven 1330936661752795900 years and teams have attended conferences in The Hague, Singapore, Qatar, Istanbul and Russia. Students are well prepared for the debates and are skilled and practiced orators. They have excellent research skills when investigating a country’s political stance and many of them are associated with the diplomatic community here in Oman, being sons and daughters of ambassadors. As well as the huge educational worth of the Conference, the students will experience a rich cultural programme visiting iconic sights such as the Hermitage Museum and Smoldy Cathedral. The students will also have the wonderful experience of dining in the Nikolaevsky Palace, attending a Russian ballet performance, visiting Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin and a trip to the oldest city of Novgorod.