Jamison Celio, an Arabic academic year 2023-2024 student, is from Auburn, California and plans to study international relations and Arabic at Georgetown Walsh School of Foreign Service after completing the NSLI-Y program.

I've always heard of Model United Nations, or MUN, in the U.S. Still, I never had the opportunity to participate in one… that is, until a fellow cohort member heard about a MUN here in the Rabat region and suggested that our cohort sign up. At first, I was hesitant. Should I leave my little cohort bubble, which I had just begun to get comfortable in? Do I sign up to speak publicly with a bunch of strangers while being brand new to the MUN concept. After procrastinating my decision, I, along with most of the cohort, said, "Yes, let's do it." That quickly became an exciting decision, one that I do not regret.

Once receiving my country and committee, I began writing my position paper on women's rights from the perspective of Taiwan, a topic I never thought I'd dive into. Each cohort member, each with their unique topic and country, became excited about their subject and prepared eagerly for their debate. And while many, including myself, began to get anxious about the big day, it quickly became one of our most fascinating experiences in Morocco.

Model United Nation students posing for a photo

Following an hour-long train from Rabat to Kenitra, we entered the realm of private Moroccan education, revealing many surprises. The speeches during the opening ceremony were given to the audience in Darija, Fusha, French, and English, a whirlwind of languages that gave me quite a headache. Nevertheless, this mixing of languages proved impressive, as our fellow Moroccan delegates followed along with every speech in every language, some with such seeming ease that I began to question my own language competency. Witnessing this brief instance of culture around language has motivated me further in my Arabic studies, an instance far different from anything I've seen in the US.

After writing my formal apology letter of tardiness to the chairperson (long story), the opening speeches and following debate revealed the readiness of these students, debating impressively on the most sensitive subjects in their 3rd or even 4th language. In awe of their ability to exhibit confidence in these discussions, I left the final session with a valuable sense of what it means to have consistent language studies as part of a core curriculum.

More importantly, I met many, many new people, from fellow "lycée" and university students to the Alpha MUN President. These young people portrayed the epitome of motivation in their studies, some moving on to their master's and even doctoral degrees. If I had been told one year ago that my first MUN would be more than 5000 miles from my home state, I would not have believed it, nor would I have wanted to attend. Yet, the more time I spend in Morocco, the more I've learned just to say "yes" and see what I can learn from these unfamiliar and captivating experiences.