Intelligent. Determined. Humorous. Humble.
These are but a few words to describe ALAMAU 2019’s phenomenal Chairperson, Asha Guled. Assuming her role in March 2018, Asha has been hard at work to make the ALAMAU 2019 conference the best conference in its history. Last week, Press Corps decided to catch up with Ms Guled to find out more about who she is. Through 10 amazing questions, we aim to unveil who Asha really is, personally and professionally, as well as her dreams and aspirations for ALAMAU ahead.
1. Firstly, we would like to know: who is Asha Guled? Perhaps give us a little background information about yourself.
My name is Asha Guled and I’m a student at the African Leadership Academy, Chairperson of ALAMAU 2019 and a fun fact about me is that I stem from various backgrounds. I am most notably of Somali descent but born and raised in The Netherlands. I have also lived in Somalia, Kenya and the United Kingdom, and I currently reside in South Africa. My rich backgrounds have nurtured me to speak various languages and accommodate knowledge about numerous cultures and traditions. Apart from travelling, I also really enjoy being in the kitchen with my father, exploring fashion, and creating my own crafts.
2. Where did your love for International Relations begin and what inspired you to be a part of ALAMAU 2019?
I believe that my love for International Relations blossomed out of my interests in understanding systems. I’ve always been captivated by the how’s and why’s in our world, be it understanding the social structure of an ancient civilisation or figuring out why velour tracksuits were ever a thing (they never should be a thing!). Political systems seem to shape our livelihoods, our roles as citizens, and at times our values. I find this to be very intriguing, and so my love for International Relations and ALAMAU is largely inspired by my fascinations with the impact that it can have.
3) ALAMAU’s new theme has just been revealed. We want to know what progress you think that Africa has made so far? Also, how can we leverage from this progress so that we can create a sustained future?
Over the past decade, Africa has made notable strides in several sectors. Through the
implementation of sound financial policies, we’ve seen significant poverty reduction in countries such as Ethiopia and Rwanda. Politically, we have seen longstanding presidents resign and Kenya recently became the third country in the world, and the first in Africa to have a presidential election nullified. Quite evidently, some African countries have made great progress and they are taking the vital steps towards reaching the Africa we envision.
But to truly reach this vision, we need to all be able to go there together. This could be done by encouraging policies that are beneficial to numerous countries, such as the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement. The sharing of knowledge and resources can also greatly influence other countries’ progress, as we see with the Customs Union of the East African Community which encourages free trade zones in the region and encompasses various sectors such as health, customs and immigration and labour.
4. What can the delegates expect from the 2019 conference? What is different? What’s new?
In ALAMAU 2019, we expect to have more young leaders from Africa and across the world to join us for the conference, diversifying the opinions in our committees and broadening the networks that our participants get to create.
Delegates and advisors alike will encounter improved preparation programmes prior to the conference. Our Director of Delegation Preparation and Research and the research team at large have been working hard on redrafting delegate and advisor programmes to enhance their committee experience.
In ALAMAU 2018, we spoke of how we can build the foundations for a sustainable future. This year, the theme of ‘Leveraging Africa’s Progress for Sustained Growth’ shifts our focus from creating foundations to creating progress. We recognise the advancements that Africa has made, and will discuss how this progress needs to be leveraged and replicated to create concrete change.
Outside committee sessions, we should also expect to see a more intercontinentally diverse cultural night and a spectacular gala dinner, with a new theme!
These are but a few of the new things we should expect to see in ALAMAU 2019. Regardless, ALAMAU 2019 still promises to hold many fruitful conversations, memorable experiences and long lasting friendships.
5. Away from the formal conversation, we would like to know a few things you like to do. For instance, your favourite television show?
Breaking Bad has been one of the best series that I have gotten the chance to watch. The scripting is incredibly natural and relatable whilst the storyline always keeps you on your toes. Who doesn’t like hearing about a middle-aged high school teacher turned drug lord? I also enjoy watching Vikings because it visualises a folktale in an imaginative way with a captivating storyline.
6. Your favourite subject at school?
Despite the fact that I have chosen to drop this subject in my A-levels, history continues to be my favourite subject. It’s a tale of humankind, with different species, civilisations and cultures that existed and continue to exist. Although history favours those who write it, it still remains a field of study that allows us to identify patterns, and more importantly, it allows us to enter other worlds.
7. How about your favourite food?
Rice with banana. Before you judge me, you won’t know how amazing it tastes if you haven’t tried it!
Eating warm meals with banana is a common practice in Somalia. It provides the perfect balance between sweet and savoury, and it is a staple in every Somali household. No matter where I am, eating a warm meal like pasta or rice with banana immediately reminds me of home, and so it is easily my favourite meal.
8. If you were an animal you would be?…
A cheetah. I once had two pet cheetahs, Laila and Kays, and they taught me how gracious, caring and fierce cheetahs can be. They were both very much (eventually) liked by everyone they met. This is the type of character that I would also like to have: an individual who is bold and fast in achieving what she desires, whilst also getting along with those around her.
9. If you could choose one superpower, what would it be?
I’d choose to be mentiferous. Mentifery gives someone the power to turn their thoughts and imagination into reality. That way I’ll be able to think of ending world poverty, and it would end! I could also imagine eating an infinite supply of lasagna (my second favourite food), and afterwards, I could picture myself having a six-pack. Perfect!
10. A Piece of advice to the prospective ALAMAU 2019 delegates?
Having been to numerous MUN conferences around the world, I would argue that two main things are needed for you to have the best experience as a delegate: quality research and confidence. Scratching beyond the surface and researching past the headlines (and past the first link to Wikipedia), is essential if you want to understand your topic. This allows you to be flexible in the committee room and permits you to come up with thoughtful solutions. Considering that technology is not permitted in the committee rooms, I would also suggest that all your research is printed and organised in a file.
All of this information means nothing if you do not have the confidence to deliver it and deliver it well, so trust your abilities and you’ll see yourself performing superbly!
And there you have it. Sound, solid and bold words from our Chairperson to kick-start the excitement as ALAMAU 2019 begins to unfold. Surely, from the way things look, this conference is going to be beyond spectacular.
Be sure to check out more bi-weekly updates from this blog as we introduce new faces at ALAMAU and give an exclusive sneak-peak of the topics that will be discussed in this year’s conference.
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Written by Katai Mutale, Director of Press Corps.
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