I’m most grateful to Erica Zaja, a fourth-year undergraduate student reading Ecological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, for her very positive reflections on the first-ever Scotland Model Arctic Council (SCOTMAC). Erica took part as a delegate, never having experienced model diplomacy, and she had this to say in her guest post on the Edinburgh School of Geosciences blog:
SCOTMAC was an incredibly eye-opening exercise, shedding light on a variety of issues and enabling students to develop a range of transferrable skills. The Chair made sure we always took time at the end of the day to engage in reflective discussions as a group. These helped us to think about what skills we were working on, how to improve the ongoing negotiations, and how what we were doing related to the real Arctic Council. I learnt how to use diplomatic language, I learnt that diplomacy often happens when on a coffee break, I learnt that communication needs content, honesty, and proper use of words to be effective. I met amazing people that I will certainly keep in touch with.
SCOTMAC taught me more than I could imagine in the space of 3 days and I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to participate in such a great initiative. It was refreshing to be exposed to the world of diplomacy and to engage with environmental issues that I study at University in a completely different way. The conference introduced me to the world of policy and decision-making and showed me the extent to which decisions made in a room can impact the lives of millions of vulnerable people. I never thought I’d become a diplomat or get involved in any policy-related work.
I just might now.
This is the best sort of feedback for me as an educator—that a student not only learns new things, but also thinks about herself and her future in a way that she’s never done so before. All the best to Erica whatever her future path may be.