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Reflecting on my first experience as a chair at LonWHO 2022

I cannot believe that it has been over one month since LonWHO 2022. For the conference, I participated as a member of the organising committee and as a Chair - observing participants engaging in debates and policymaking concerning the theme of ‘Pandemics: Preparedness, Response, and Recovery’.

Before co-chairing at this year’s conference, I had previously participated in two LonWHO simulation conferences as a delegate in 2018 and 2019. The experience encouraged me to apply for the UK Model WHO’s 2021 Academy Programme to be a participant on the ‘Chair Training Track’. The programme provided me with valuable knowledge about what the roles of being a Chair, Vice-Chair, and Secretary involve. After completing the programme, I was eager to put the training I received into practice at a Model WHO simulation conference.

Early this year, I applied to be part of the organising committee for the LonWHO 2022 conference. As an organising team member, I created a Chair guide tailored for those with limited experience. To create the guide, I reviewed Chair training materials from the academy programme which refreshed my knowledge about the role. Therefore, when asked to participate as a Chair in this year’s LonWHO conference, I did not hesitate to say ‘yes’ to the opportunity. I viewed it as a chance to learn and apply my teachings from participating in the academy programme.

My role as Chair involved me co-chairing committee sessions alongside a fellow organising team member - Asrafizra Kunjang - who had recently chaired at the SheffWHO conference. So, I got the opportunity to co-chair and assimilate alongside someone with previous experience.

In turn, I acted as both Chair and Vice-Chair/Secretary as we switched roles between each committee session. As Chair, I would conduct the roll call and moderate debates, using the wxMUN software to monitor speaking times. I also got to bang the gavel (of course the best part of the role) to indicate when the assigned times for the speaking lists, moderated or unmoderated caucuses had elapsed.

As Vice-chair/Secretary, I wrote the minutes on a Google document during committee and plenary sessions. This was the most challenging part of the experience. At times it was difficult to keep up with all the interesting points the delegates were contributing during debates (my apologies to the delegates whose discussion points I did not record accurately). On a more positive note, it was a great chance to develop my active listening and minute-taking skills.

During unmoderated caucuses, I walked around to see how the delegates were progressing with writing their draft resolutions, asking them if they understood what the formatting of the resolutions should be. Observing the delegates proactively engaging with each other during debates and the draft resolutions process was a key highlight for me.

In all, I enjoyed participating as a Chair for the first time at this year’s LonWHO conference. I got to meet new people as an organising team member, whilst employing the knowledge I have gained from previous experiences as a delegate and academy programme participant. I look forward to partaking in other WHO simulation conferences as a Chair to build on the skills I attained during this year’s LonWHO conference.

In turn, to those who have procured experience as a delegate in previous model WHO simulation conferences and are interested in training to be a chair, I would advise you to go for it. Take it from me - it may seem scary at first, but once you embrace the opportunity it can be a rewarding experience that can expose you to further opportunities in future WHO simulation conferences.

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