By Elsa Soto Garcia, Rotaract Club of Mexicali Industrial, Mexico
Walking through the doors of the United Nations headquarters building in New York was an awesome experience. Sitting in a room full of students from 30 different nationalities, sharing ideas on how to promote the model UN programs in our countries, was even more amazing.
I have been taking part in model UN programs for many years. My first taste came as an exchange student in Europe while I was attending the Autonomous University of Baja California. I had an opportunity to take part in model UN delegations in France, Italy, Germany, Turkey, and Mexico.
I became involved in Rotary’s model UN program through District 5340 as a student at San Diego State University’s campus in Imperial Valley, where I helped found a chapter of Rotaract. The district’s program draws high school students from across southern California, each sponsored by their local Rotary club, and immerses them in the intricacies of conflict resolution and diplomacy. They also have a unique opportunity to make new friends and meet world leaders, like last year’s conference key note speaker Dr. Hamid Al-Bayati, Iraq’s Ambassador to the UN.
It is a shining example of our work in promoting peace.
Each year, the United Nations chooses 70 model UN organizers to take part in a week-long training program at the headquarters building in New York. I was thrilled to be accepted for this year’s class, and learn new skills to bring back to the San Diego program. I had the honor of addressing the Deputy Secretary General for the United Nations, Mr. Jan Eliasson, and mentioning Rotary’s longstanding relationship with the UN. He told us what a great job Rotary has been doing on working to eradicate polio and provide clean drinking water.
Aaron Ng’ambi, a Rotaractor from Hawaii and Natali Soroka a Rotaractor from Ukraine, sought me out after his comment. We discovered we all shared an interest in building international awareness and diplomacy. We shared how Rotaract has empowered us to do so, and how great we thought it was that the Rotaract Club of Baia Mare in Romania hosted the first Rotaract International Model UN last August.
Through Rotaract, Rotary empowers young people to be future leaders. I am also proud of my involvement in the model UN program, where we prepare students to take on roles in civil administration and seek peace and democracy. We will keep preparing students here in San Diego and Imperial Valley to be future peace workers, and maybe even proud Rotaractors and Rotarians!