Hundreds of Qatar’s high-schoolers experience world of leadership through debate and film-making

More than 400 students, teachers and mentors from schools across Qatar and the region wrapped up the Qatar MUN and Film Leadership Conference 2013 at Education City yesterday.

The program of workshops, debates and group activities witnessed a 20 percent increase in its second year. The conference builds on annual Model United Nations conferences and THIMUN Qatar Northwestern film festivals to hone the leadership skills in youths about to embark on their search for leadership at the undergraduate level and beyond.

Organized jointly by THIMUN Qatar Regional Office – a partnership between The Hague International Model United Nation’s office and Qatar Academy – Northwestern University in Qatar and Georgetown University in Qatar, the conference drew students and teachers from Doha and other Qatari cities representing 37 nationalities.

According to Jamal Al Ani, a senior at Qatar Academy and Secretary General of the conference, the event draws strength from the unique combination of contributors. “The presenters at this conference are both students and teachers, and so are the members of the organizing committee,” he said. “We make decisions together and plan together, and the result is an outstanding conference.”

In over 100 workshops students learned on-the-spot debate skills, how to take command and lead large teams and how to initiate and expand their own MUN. Participants also explored the basics of cinematography, how to run a film festival and how to use films and documentaries to convey powerful messages.

Speaking at the opening plenary, Mary Dedinsky, director of NU-Q’s journalism program, relayed to participants her experience in leadership as the first woman in America to become managing editor of a major metropolitan newspaper, the Chicago Sun-Times. “There are no short cuts to effective leadership. Grit, hard work and enthusiasm will take you there,” she told the attendees.

“The conferences we hold today teach important skills to young high-school students who later become leaders in their fields,” said Dedinsky, adding that the current president of NU-Q student government and editor of the NU-Q student-run news site, the Daily-Q, was a participant herself in the previous Qatar MUN and Film Leadership Conference.

The conference this year hosted visionary speakers from outside Qatar including Sarah Hubner, founder of Bake This, Munich’s most successful English-speaking theater improvisation group, and Carl Wilkens, humanitarian worker and founder of the educational NGO, World Outside My Shoes. The opening banquet was also attended by His Excellency Nicholas Hopton, the recently appointed British ambassador to Qatar.

Brendan Hill, associate dean for students at Georgetown University in Qatar, said, “Our vision at Georgetown University is to educate the women and men who will become the future generation of world leaders, and to contribute to global peace, prosperity and human well-being through responsible, active participation in civic life. This conference brings together the joint efforts of those who share that vision. And working with our valued partners, THIMUN Qatar, Qatar Academy and Northwestern University in Qatar, we are excited by the possibilities that lay before us.”

The next THIMUN Qatar Northwestern Film Festival will take place between April 17-19, 2014. The deadline for film submissions is on February 14.