May 27, 2016

Thinking on my feet

Edith Amoafoa-Smart ’19

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People who know me are aware of my relationship with Model United Nations. We first met in middle school. After competing—and winning awards—in both the national competition and the Global Classrooms International Middle School Model UN conference in the United States, I fell madly and deeply in love. The constant rush of adrenaline that comes with having to think so quickly and frequently on my feet? It’s both challenging and gratifying.

Going the distance

Our relationship soon turned into a long-distance one; my high school did not have a Model UN club. So I familiarized myself with similar organizations, such as the Ghana United Nations Students and Youth Association, to try to maintain some links.

Imagine my joy, as a high school senior, when I stumbled upon the Mount Holyoke College Model UN (MHCMUN) club’s website—which I now manage. I was trying to decide whether or not to make Mount Holyoke my home from 8,147 kilometers away.

The MHCMUN club was clearly very proactive, having won many awards and created its own student-organized conference. There was something about the bevy of wonderful ladies that called out to me. I knew then, without a doubt, that I would find a place in the MHCMUN family. My decision to attend Mount Holyoke was set.

“I do so with a flair”

In a relatively short time with the club, I have grown in tremendous and visible ways. Model UN promotes transferrable skills and character traits like confidence, eloquence, argumentative writing and speaking skills, networking strategies, and influential leadership abilities.

Weekly simulations offer a platform for putting all of these skills into practice, so that when I give presentations or write argumentative essays for my classes, I do so with a flair. And there is always something to learn from the conferences we travel to on the collegiate circuit.

In spring 2016 I applied to—and was chosen to represent MHCMUN at—the University of Chicago’s Model UN conference. Known as CHOMUN, this event is one of, if not the most, competitive crisis conferences on the circuit. It was an amazing learning experience to be exposed to some of the country’s brightest, craftiest, most skilled, and most creative minds.

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 Creativity, negotiation skills, and endurance

During the four-day April conference, I was placed on a committee called “Goodluck Outta Luck” that acted as a special advisory to the president of Nigeria in the year 2014. The sessions—each day averaged three, four-hour sessions—were long and grueling. My committee was faced with reacting to the challenges of the Boko Haram insurgency, the secession of some northern Nigerian states, and the untimely contraction of fatal scalp cancer by the president.

In my role, I ran for president as the minister of labor, won the elections, and then lost the elections because they were rigged by the minister of justice. At which point I was kidnapped by Boko Haram. The experience called for a solid mix of creativity and negotiation skills.

CHOMUN was only my second conference in the North American Model UN collegiate circuit, which, compared to the Ghanaian and middle school circuits that I come from, prioritizes the delivery of content (presentation skills) even more than the quality of the content. However, you wouldn’t know that I was adjusting to such a change if you saw me debate. I attribute this to the support of my MHCMUN family, the advice from my experienced MHCMUN mentors, and the high level of competition I’ve encountered in my committees.

Leading forward

Starting in fall 2016, I will serve as vice president of MHCMUN. I look forward to leading the club to #makethembleed (our rallying cry) and to collective success. And though I am largely unsure of what form my future career will take, I am convinced it will involve a lot of thinking on my feet, negotiating, public speaking, and persuasive analytical writing—all things I continue to hone through my love, Model UN.

This is the second blog in a four-part series featuring members of MHC’s formidable Model UN team and their spring 2016 conferences. Read the full series.

Embrace the adrenaline. Learn More

Edith Amoafoa-Smart ’19 is from Accra, Ghana. She double majors in international relations and French and is pursuing a Five College Certificate in African Studies. She is involved in Mount Holyoke’s Speaking, Arguing, and Writing Program; the Student Government Association communications committee; the Career Development Center student advisory board; and the Mount Holyoke Model United Nations executive board. Her future career may focus on African development. And she gladly channels Lady Gaga: “If you have revolutionary potential, it’s your moral obligation to try and make the world a better place.”
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