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Secretary General speech

Martín Rojas Remolina

This moment feels like a dream; too good to be true. If I told my eleven-year-old self I would be standing in an auditorium as Secretary General of my school’s model, he would have never believed it. First, CBMUN did not exist back then. Second, I lacked the confidence and vision ever to see myself in a position of such merit. Leading a team of 6 brilliant classmates I am proud to call a Secretariat, sending emails to administration, negotiating with sponsoring companies, and overly-stressing over budgeting like a college student would have never crossed my mind. Back then I was still inside a childish bubble that prevented me from understanding the true meaning of words such as leadership, ambition, and empathy. The good thing about bubbles, though, they pop at some point.

I joined MUN for a very silly reason. When I was in 5th grade, I saw a few High School students wearing suits and ties, and I asked them why they were dressed so elegantly. They said it was because they were at a model united nations. So, the real reason behind my signing up for Model UN as an elective in the first place is that I wanted to feel elegant and important. I even signed up for my first model, CCB, without even doing a simulation in class before. I went in totally blind; I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Soon, however, I found out that perhaps this was where I was supposed to be. A place where I felt I could make a difference. A place that could pop my bubble and help me understand the world and our society.

Cut to six years later, I can whole-heartedly say that calling this experience life-changing is an understatement. It is because of MUN that I am an environmentalist. A feminist. An advocate for human rights. Not only am I now confident enough to stand in front of all of you, but I am confident enough to speak my mind and stand up for what I believe in. Years of representing countries and embodying world leaders, crafting powerful speeches, and brainstorming solutions for a myriad of issues across the globe, have taught me that there is nothing more important than creating change.

Now I understand the meaning of those three words I mentioned before, and I know that they are the keys to progress, innovation, and a better future. Leadership is being a good listener, understanding the value that lies in cultural and political diversity, and using a commanding voice to promote peace through collaboration. It means leading with ethics, having a vision of community, and understanding that ego and arrogance can only end in conflict.

Ambition means standing your ground without letting others stop you, having enough conviction to maintain perseverance and disobey when you have to, but owning the sufficient dose of humility to identify when your ambition wakes your authoritarian self. It is a double-sided sword, but once you can master the art of finding balance, it becomes a key tool for success.

Contrary to popular belief, empathy does not mean stepping in other people’s shoes. We all wear different sizes, and we all have different life experiences. So, I like to think of empathy as standing in no shoes, barefoot, and approaching others as equals. It also does not mean tolerance. Someone once said to me that tolerance implies resistance, and resistance implies that at some point it will break. Instead, empathy means acceptance and mutual understanding. Open-mindedness and care for other people’s emotions and experiences, an effort to understand that we are all part of a society of equal beings who deserve the same level of respect and representation in the political arena. The same goes for how we approach the natural world, which due to our exploitative, capitalistic view of our planet is done anthropocentric ally, meaning with humans as the center. We are part of something bigger. An ecosystem worth protecting, and a natural balance that we are destroying, dooming the idea of a prosperous future for humanity in the process.

I remember when I was little and spent too much time in the shower, my mother used to tell me: “Turn off the water if you wanna grow up and see the polar bears”. I thought this did not make sense, and I laughed because I thought it was a joke. But now I know that everything is interconnected. It takes lots of energy to pump, treat, and heat water, so saving water reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which reduces our carbon footprint, which mitigates the climate crisis, and benefits arctic wildlife, whose populations keep decreasing exponentially. Empathizing with the natural world is just as important as empathizing with those who are different in race, gender, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, or nationality.

With these three keys, change is inevitable. Leaders need ambition to chase their goals, just as they need empathy to incorporate different perspectives in their labor. In these three days, in future models, and in the years to come, I encourage you all to employ these keys in your work ethic. Right now we are exercising our creativity to simulate solving different issues, from wars to malnutrition to discrimination. But in the future, it will be the real world. After all, we belong to a generation with a mission to secure more change than those who came before us. Are we going to let ourselves repeat the patterns of the past? Are we going to turn a blind eye to the pressing reality of a warming planet, of systemic oppression of the most vulnerable members of society, and follow the trend of spilling blood instead of words? Not in a million years. In a room filled with egocentric, arrogant, and greed-powered individuals fantasizing solely about economic growth or trying to benefit from violence and anarchy, be a leader. Have enough ambition to alter the status quo. Choose empathy.

Thank you all.

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