University of Pretoria (UP) third-year Political Science student Thulaganyo Kola won the best delegate award when she represented the institution at the Asia Youth International Model United Nations (AYIMUN) conference in Malaysia.
AYIMUN is an annual international conference where young leaders from all over the world sit in an assembly and meeting sessions and play the role of diplomats, each representing a country they are assigned to. This conference is aimed at allowing young people to engage on international issues and policies and debate possible solutions for topics on the agenda.
Kola, a South African, was assigned as a delegate for Nigeria on the council on the United Nations High Commission of Refugees (UNHCR), for which she won the best delegate award.
Thulaganyo Kola with other AYIMUN delegates
She said: “The commission of UNHCR which I participated in tackled the issue of asylum processing systems, whereby as delegates we had to find solutions for asylum seekers to be integrated, processed and registered in the host countries they are fleeing to.” She explained that as a delegate for Nigeria, she presented solutions of regional cooperation around this issue, “because I believe that through unity of international actors, there can be increased support for hosting countries in the interest of all asylum seekers”.
Kola, who was the only UP representative at the conference, said participating in the UNHCR as a delegate for Nigeria meant that she was striving for that country’s policies and interests to be represented in whatever resolution that was adopted.
“Representing Nigeria was an amazing experience because I got to learn about the culture, the workings and structure of the country and all the issues they go through with regards to refugees. Being able to do so enabled me to realise that we all need to be agents of change to help the world in which ever way we can, to ensure that all human rights are prioritised and are enjoyed by all humans globally,” she said.
She said Malaysia was filled with diversity, an atmosphere of friendliness and a rich culture with amazing food; which made her realise that the members of the global community are more alike than one would think.
Kola said women must play an active role in making their dreams come true and that women should never allow any circumstance to define where their dreams are taking them.
“A heart that aspires is a heart that will inspire,” she said.