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'Model UN conference' begins: a colourful display by 250 students

ISLAMABAD, Aug 17: The third regional Smamun (Saint Mary's Academy Model United Nations) conference, a students organised event, kicked off with a bang at the Saint Mary's Academy Lalazar in Rawalpindi on Thursday, boasting strengths of over 250 delegates from 29 schools.

Smamun Society is a student-led organisation which seeks to provide college and high school under-graduates an insight into the workings and dealings of the United Nations.

The four-day event would engage schools which would represent different countries like Cuba, US, North Korea, France, Lebanon besides many others in meaningful debates on contemporary issues of significance by simulating mock committee sessions of the United Nations.

Head Start, City School, Roots Islamabad, Beacon House, Khuldunia High School, Grammar School, University Law College Lahore, LGS Lahore and students from Saint Mary's Academy are participating in the event.

The principal of the academy, Eileen Ann Datty, said, "It is a platform provided by students to their counterparts to express their abilities and interact and learn about international relations." She expressed the hope that the children would learn to develop tolerance and become open to differences of opinions. "If one more student becomes aware then such events are worth arranging that can lead to greater understanding of cultures."

Following the huge popularity and success over the past two years, Global Village, a social event giving the delegates a chance to represent their country assignments in a more illustrative and visual manner, was also held on the occasion.

Depicting the land of the Pharos, students of Islamabad Convent School were representing Egypt. Titled "Lets journey into Egypt's ancient civilization", their stall literally carried delegates back into time. The students had decorated their pavilion with beautiful paintings and artifacts, some even 400 years old, and some Egyptian food items.

"There is much more to Egypt than just Pharos and the Pyramids," said Maria Alliende and Natasha Sarah Murad, dressed as Egyptian royal ladies, adding that the Egyptian culture was the most fascinating and they also learnt so much about their politics. Their classmate Sidra Khokhar appreciated the Egyptian embassy for helping them study the country.

Dressed in traditional African shirts and head scarves, Emaan Maqbool and Abdullah Bhatti admired everything about Ghana. "Did you know that Ghana was the first African country to gain independence? Did you know that coco for almost all the chocolates in the world came from Ghana? And did you know that there is 57 per cent literacy in our Ghana," said two Beacon House students representing the African country.

"Ghana may be poor but the culture, the dances and the natural wealth make it so rich," said Emaan.

"This is probably the greatest event to learn about so many countries and mingle with so many children," said Mina Asghar, as she put bindi on the forehead of a girl who represented Saudi Arabia.

Her classmates from Beacon House School System represented India and would be taking up the issues of poverty and HIV/Aids in topics assigned to them.

But probably one of the most interesting was the Israeli pavilion. Mohammad Ali, Ayaz Mehmood and Fahad Jalil, O-level students from Beacon House Rawalpindi, demonstrated how a wedding in the Jewish culture took place.

Loud but romantic music played in the background as a Jewish bride, played by one of their female class fellows walked from the school building towards her pavilion. All the students gathered around taking pictures from their cybershots or phone cameras. But besides all the fun and insight into Jewish traditions, the team was set to take on the rest of the world on various contemporary issues.

"Israel is a difficult country to represent because there are so many questions that will be thrown at us once dialogue starts tomorrow. But we are ready to defend Israel and present solutions that might satisfy all the delegates," said Abbas Taqui.

Saint Mary's Model UN society had been preparing since March to make Smamun a great success. Arsalan Alif Shafqat, one of the organisers, was pleased with the way the conference was conducted. "Last whole month we worked day and night. And we are looking forward to some serious interactions when the dialogues between these countries start from tomorrow," Arsalan said. Dawn
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