When I was six years old, I befriended a prodigy who had the supernatural ability to move objects simply by staring at them. Matilda only existed in the pages of a Roald Dahl novel, but she was more tangible to me than any real-life sandbox buddy. Inspired by Matilda's shining moment -- when she lifted a piece of chalk through only her concentrated stare -- I devoted much time to staring at chalk during class, hoping that they would rise for even a second. Though this exercise proved futile, I eventually discerned that Matilda's powers did not come from simply staring; they came from her strong desire to right an injustice and her recognition of Miss Honey's dire situation under the unrelenting grip of her evil aunt, Miss Trunchbull.
Just as the abuses on Miss Honey compelled Matilda to help, a family trip to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia during the fifth grade moved me to raise awareness of world events. I witnessed firsthand the dismal living conditions of the residents there, a stark contrast to my comparatively luxurious life in California. With this eye-opening experience, I recognized the necessity of noticing the world beyond my own life, and more importantly, educating myself and others about the grave problems that many nations face.
Armed with the understanding that the expansive world consists of more than just my personal experience, I strove to share this realization during my time in high school, a unique time when students begin to form their plans for the future. I hoped to help my classmates develop their ambitions by delving into current universal issues. To fulfill this goal, I established the Model United Nations (MUN) club at my school - a club designed to stimulate discussion of world affairs through the simulation of United Nations conferences
As founder and president of my school's MUN, I created a forum for students to deeply explore international concerns, voice their opinions, and ultimately formulate their own policy solutions. In particular, MUN conferences - gatherings of student delegates representing various countries - served as an excellent chance for club members to compromise and collaborate with delegates from other nations on pressing global dilemmas. For Saudi Arabia, they drafted a resolution to alleviate the devastating maltreatment of women. For Nigeria, delegates compromised on possible solutions for the cholera outbreak. For North Korea, they explored the possibility of reunification with South Korea.
I still recall the faces of my club members at the first MUN meeting, unsure of the impact that the club would have on them; many had initially shown up out of curiosity. The effect was gradual. A member would talk amongst his group while researching for the first conference and say, "I never knew that Afghanistan had problems with water security." The curious delegates continued to attend conferences, and some would switch from the UN Environment Program Committee to the Human Rights Council Committee, eager to explore a new issue. Although it was evident that the members' interests in global events had grown, the most fulfilling part of starting MUN was knowing that these interests, leading them to critically consider international issues in high school, could potentially play in shaping their future paths.
Despite my greatest efforts, I never brought my telekinetic powers to fruition; my dear friend Matilda, however, has pushed me to move objects far greater - minds - by providing opportunities to think critically and learn endlessly. Starting with an awareness of events of the world that unfold every day, just as young Matilda first took a personal interest in Miss Honey's plight, I continue to encourage myself and others to explore problems of international scale. For me, one small novel has revealed that the world is one big place.