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  • Writer's picture'Zulu Uwolloh

Taryn Riddle; Founder, Changemaker and MUN Afficianado

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

At the beginning of 2020, Taryn was finally wrapping up plans for her high school's first-ever Model United Nations conference. The venue was set, delegates had been recruited and she was excited. Then the pandemic started and everything was shut down. Disappointment set in, but Taryn soon realized that education had quickly been shifted online and she wondered why she couldn't do the same. And so her work began. Transferring all the prep she had done online was the first step to creating the Youth International Summit Model United Nations Conference. The student-led international organization is a virtual Model UN Conference which has delegates from middle school, high school, and university convene and create solutions to global issues. The next step was reaching out to people and building a network. One of the more trying tasks, Taryn ensured she built a brand for YISMUN. She created a logo and social media pages, shared information about the conference, and reached out to advocacy groups and MUN clubs.

A lot of the time, I would reach out to 10 people and get 1 response, and sometimes it was a yes, a maybe or it didn't work out. But each yes, can get you so incredibly far.

The countless emails and DM's paid off though, with the first conference, held in June 2020, having 60 students from 12 countries, YISMUN quickly gained traction and soon they had thousands of delegates from over 120 countries attending their conferences. Reaching out to people wasn't the only challenge faced though. Numerous and small challenges constantly came up, from security in Zoom meetings, to bullying, racism, and sexism, it was a priority that the concerns of the delegates were heard and addressed. Beyond that network and technology disparities and time zones were also factors that came up. But with an international staff of students from over 10 countries, including but not limited to, the US, Nigeria, Malaysia, Morocco, India, Brazil, Indonesia, and more, Taryn had structures and built a leadership team equipped with the necessary skills to address these issues and to run a sustainable conference. The conference had many successes. From having delegates in countries like East Timor, which recently gained independence from Indonesia, which may not necessarily have as much of an impact on the UN to students in Russia, Afghanistan and Iran (countries that do not have the best relations with the USA) and connecting with future leaders who would shape their countries foreign policies. Taryn loved hearing the distinct and unique solutions of these students. But that was not the only impact of YISMUN.

I received a message from a student in Indonesia who was brand new to Model UN. She thanked me for hosting this conference. For her, it was so hard to find opportunities that are empowering to women. She felt it was hard to succeed in her school clubs and it was impactful and inspiring for her to see a team of mostly women, 75%, running a successful conference.

Model UN has societal and personal benefits. From fostering dialogue and healthy dissent and allowing a safe space for conversations to public speaking, diplomacy, and teamwork skills, Taryn believes that every student should attend a Model UN conference.

That being said, the core value of YISMUN is simple, to lift up students who are ambitious and want leadership experiences and to build their resume to further their success in the future. As a student applying to ivy league schools, Taryn saw the impact her leadership experiences had on her applications and she wanted to make sure other students had the same experiences and opportunities. Students can now apply for primary leadership positions in YISMUN, so don't miss out on this amazing opportunity!

Taryn's piece of advice for creating change and impacting your community is simple. Start small, start with the resources you have, and spread your work as much as you can.

If you want to create change start by looking at your own resources and what you have that you can use to get started today. You can turn simple resources into something bigger than what you can ever imagine.

In this new podcast episode, Taryn Riddle, a changemaker, speaks to us about separating your friendships from your professional relationships, the importance of Model United Nations and adapting to change. Listen to the episode below!

Taryn's Recommendations

1. Watch the Poverty Inc. Documentary

2. Read Lean In BY Cheryl Sanberg

3. Be spontaneous! You never know how many chances you will get, so travel and make the most of life while you have it.

Connect with Taryn!

Find out more about YISMUN

WRITTEN BY Chizulu Uwolloh.

'Zulu is a writer, self-proclaimed bibliophile, lawyer, and international development passionate about social impact and showing people how they can create change in their communities. Zulu Uwolloh is a lawyer and international development professional. She is also the founder of Kurerie, a digital platform, and community that amplifies the voices of youth making an impact in their communities. Kurerie educates young people on how they can become active stakeholders in the achievement of the SDGs. She is passionate about showing young people that they can change the world with the smallest actions.

Want to connect with Zulu?

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