This October, Cairo American College celebrated the 40th anniversary of CACMUN. First established in 1978, CACMUN began as a one-day conference whose purpose was to prepare the students for the Hague International Model United Nations (THIMUN) conference. After a successful start, it became an official THIMUN- affiliated conference that hosts local as well as international schools for a three-day conference. For CACMUN’s 40th anniversary, the Advancement Office connected with Mrs Barbara Johnson, who founded the first CACMUN conference, and was also a previous teacher, principal, and superintendent at the school.
Barbara was excited to connect back and had a few great memories and insights to share. She founded the CACMUN program in 1978 during her time in Egypt, “in 1979 I took the students to the Hague for 7 consecutive years. We won best delegation a lot!” Barbara noted “So many of those former students went into international relations and public service which is so wonderful. We were shaping the leaders of the future,” she added.
Mrs Johnson believes that one of the main reasons that CAC delegates were always so good in the conference was because they already had a large diverse background in school. She considers CAC students to be global citizens and international learners who “will not stay silent,” she affirmed.
CAC senior, Seif Hikal who is the secretary general of CACMUN this year, was so excited to be a part of the 40th anniversary during his last year at school. Students have been coming in from all over the world to be a part of this conference. “We’ve had students come in from schools all the way from Beijing to Johannesburg over the years,” noted Seif, emphasizing how today this has become the biggest conference of its kind taking place in Cairo.
This year, the conference had students coming from Beirut, Lahore, and numerous other local private schools from all around Egypt. “ In the past years we’ve had many prominent politicians and public figures attending, including previous advisor to the President, Dr. Osama El Baz, former Secretary General of the Arab League and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Amr Moussa, and well known Egyptian businessman, Naguib Sawiris, as well as several US ambassadors,” added Seif.
On the 40th anniversary of CACMUN, CAC was honored to host Dr. Moushira Khattab as keynote speaker at the opening ceremony. Dr Khattab is an Egyptian diplomat, and Former Ambassador of Egypt to South Africa. In her address at the opening ceremony, she noted, “The fact that you are celebrating 40 years means that this is a place of leadership. It means that CAC realized earlier on the crucial role of youth as constituencies as well as watchdogs of the United Nations.”
Seif’s father, Omar Hikal, is a CAC Alumni who was Chairman of the Political Committee at THIMUN over 30 years ago. Seif explained, “My father’s accomplishments at THIMUN inspired me to pursue MUN in the eighth grade. Last January, I was honored to Chair the First General Assembly at THIMUN using my father’s gavel from 1986!” Seif explained “I’ve always been amazed by the quality of the debates that take place in committees. Students come together and debate such relevant global issues, all while building long-lasting friendships that transcend borders.” Seif is not the only student at the conference who felt that being a part of such a unique conference has had great, positive implications on the choices he has made as a young adult.
All members of CACMUN had something positive to share about the overall experience. One student, Abdullah Shamsi, had this to say when asked what he learned from this experience, “ Starting CACMUN from a young age truly helped me come out of my shell. Gradually making me more confident in discussing global topics, I became more aware of what was happening around the world, it is an experience that I know will benefit me for the rest of my life, especially that I am hoping to pursue a career in international relations and diplomacy. It is very similar to what actually happens at the UN.”
A conference of such magnitude has the ability not only to raise awareness about some of the most important topics around the world, but also to shape the students’ perspectives on global issues. Whether they are planning to pursue a career in a similar field or not, being a part of CACMUN has definitely played a major role in CAC students’ learning process. The same applies to all members of the conference, not only the ones who are hoping to pursue a career in politics. Many members and students from CAC see this conference as a means of learning the art of debate, and more importantly learning how to welcome diversity, think globally, and to accept different points of view. All this, while building strong friendships with students around the world. In the end, CACMUN serves as the perfect model for students to learn while having fun.