For years, PANAMUN has had the tradition of incorporating a keynote speaker into its Opening Ceremony. The purpose of this keynote speech is to connect a real-life experience to the main theme of the conference in order to inspire delegates to connect with the issue and to demonstrate that it is something that can be dealt with. This year, in order to address the theme of “Closing Gaps”, the International School of Panama welcomed Dr. Charity Wayua, a Kenyan woman who has, with the help of many, helped create systems for Kenyan businesses to thrive. Through this hard work, she has been able to close gaps in her community regarding businesses and their availability.
Wayua arrived in Panama two days ago and explained how this is her first time here and “it has been wonderful getting to meet people” who have all “been really helpful.” She also expressed how she was “very amazed with the Canal” and “how the positioning of the country can be so important in terms of what [it] offers.” She was astounded by how Panama has such a positioning that it allows [it] to be in the heart of the World Trade”, which is something that has made a big impact on the country in a wide variety of aspects. When asked about how Panama compares to other countries she has worked in, she expressed how she “sees a lot of things [she] sees in Kenya, in terms of economic status” and traffic.
In the future, Wayua hopes to find different “things that [will] create job opportunities for young people in Africa”, since another of her “passion[s] is either both to create systems that allow people to create jobs for them or to be able to participate in directly creating jobs for them”. She believes that this can be achieved in two ways: “continuing the work that [she does], creating systems that make it easy for people to be productive, [and] to be entrepreneurs (...) and ensuring that people get the education they need so that they can stand up on their own two feet and pursue their dreams.”
Charity is a person who provides a variety of solutions in order to, in a way, help improve everyday issues that affect the society as a whole. During her project she has faced a substantial amount of challenges and she pointed out that her main challenge has alway been that she wants her ideas to be implemented as fast as possible. Charity explained how this feeling of wanting to get everything done fast gets her “a bit frustrated” since “it takes time to get everyone as enthusiastic so [she has] to keep reminding [herself] that it is a journey”.
In regards to the theme of this years conference, “Closing Gaps”, Wayua mentioned how she “think[s] this is an incredibly important experience to be a delegate in such a conference.” She believes that “before [one] can ever talk about closing gaps”, one must be able “to understand what these gaps are, be able to understand why they exist and then be able to entirely interrogate back towards solutions”. She then advised all delegates “to take this opportunity seriously and not to take it as just three days but instead to make it a lifestyle, where we start to interrogate things that we see in the world” to then find ways in which these issues can be dealt with.