Why Model UN Rocks!! Part 1

Our first Model UN (MUN) Institute for this summer concluded last week, and we are very excited to share what the participants gained, and also what they taught us! If you are interested in learning more or signing up for the next session, click here!

MUN Institute is a program that offers a comprehensive introduction to the field of international relations. It gives participants the opportunity to develop their public speaking, negotiation and research skills, while simultaneously getting to learn about human rights and the foundation of the current international system. So basically, not only do you learn a lot about the world, you also get a chance to be a better speaker.

All of us were quite impressed with the participants from the very first day, however we have all heard that, “Practice makes perfect”, and the improvement in the participants’ public speaking and debate skills proved that the idiom couldn’t be truer. Multiple ice breakers paired with Model UN simulations on the first day of the institute allowed participants to interact with their fellow delegates in a fun relaxed environment. After attendees learned what constitutes a country, they participated in a simulation where they represented fictional characters from Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Divergent. Delegates were given the task of getting their world recognized as a country by the United Nations. The debate that followed was truly fascinating. The fact that many participants had no prior MUN experience, and were still giving so involved was very impressive.IMG_1990

The second day of the Institute was mostly spent teaching the participants about parliamentary procedure. It is basically a set of rules in MUN that need to be followed when addressing another delegate or staff members. Although, parliamentary procedure is a crucial part of any MUN conference, what is even more important is being able to think on your feet. To make sure that the participants leave the Institute with this skill, we introduced an extemporaneous speaking exercise. How this worked was that the participants would stand in front of the room and would be given an everyday object to ‘represent’. Their job then is to defend why that specific thing carries great importance.  This was by far our favorite activity to watch and participate in (yes, the interns participated too)! The mix of intellectual arguments and funny anecdotes made the whole exercise even better. For instance, when asked to defend tie dye shirts, a participant said, “Tie dye shirts are the crux of our global economy.” Also, why do you think bumper stickers are important, well one of our participants believed, “Bumper stickers make you feel cool if you’re not cool.”

IMG_1991Casual debate is important; however, most of the debate in MUN is carried out in a very professional setting. On Friday, participants were dressed in western business attire and represented delegates from different countries; a true Model UN simulation. The topic they were debating was “The Use of Drones as a Human Rights Violation”.

Now, I have seen politicians, influential figures and activists talk about drones, but never have I ever been so fascinated by a conversation about the subject until I met these kids. Whether their country’s position was to defend the use of drones or not, their solid arguments and amazing metaphors set the debate in motion for a good five hours. Words like McCarthyism and phrases like, “What if I hire someone to kill the rats in my house and they killed everyone in the house” were stated in an attempt to highlight the many drawbacks of uses military drones. Many others also brought to the table the various pros and humanitarian uses of drones to monitor border patrol and provide security.

We can go on and on about the participants, but I think one last thing that I would like to mention is that they all came from various different backgrounds, but when it came to discussing a controversial subject, they kept their differences aside, listened and worked together. Today, many problems we face in this world are due to intolerance and the sheer lack of inability to listen to our peers. What we can learn from these kids is that it is okay to think different as long as you listen and try to work together!

IMG_2048Happy Fourth Everyone!

We will keep you updated as soon as our second Institute for this summer finishes next week.