This post was written by Jessica Chen, jrOMUN’s Secretary General, a student at Taipei American School, but most importantly, a recent participant at #qlc14.
When I first started to participate in Model United Nations, it was still quite a “foreign” concept. The most frequent question I received was, “So…how do you win in MUN?”
To be honest, I had no answer to that question. It seemed too shallow to say that the capable debaters, the organized delegates, or the responsible participants who are selected to chair or lead a conference as part of the secretariat are the absolute “winners”. But, it also seemed too trivial to just say that everyone is a winner in MUN because the fact is, I have met delegates who are in MUN for the sole purpose of embellishing their college applications. Still, it did not feel right to designate the recipients of “Best Delegate” awards as the “winners”, not because I haven’t received such an award, but because that “best” is a relative adjective that depends completely upon the people you are being compared to. Ultimately, for the past three years, my response to the above complex questions remained the same: There are no winners in MUN; to which my friends scoffed and snorted: What is the point of doing it then?
It wasn’t until I attended the Qatar Leadership Conference (abbreviated as QLC here on out) that I began to truly grasp the concept of true winners in MUN and the point of it. Previously, I simply justified my participation by citing one of the myriad of benefits: improved confidence, analytical skills, social skills, and the joy of being surrounded by a community of supportive, passionate people who are truly global citizens. However, QLC proved that MUN was about much more than that. The presenters and the participants demonstrated that we can and some do apply the knowledge they acquire in MUN to be a better person, a more conscientious friend, a more satisfied citizen. Despite the fact that the QLC is a conference organized by a MUN organization, not all workshops are dedicated to improving MUN skills. In fact, many of them actually focused on real-life projects (Invisible Children, UN Habitat, Maharat Sewing Project, etc.) that were applications of the skills, information, and connections we make in engaging in MUN. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of participants and presenters who were inspired by each other and who took the effort to connect with each other after the conference to further project discussions that took place during the event. It re-affirmed in my heart MUN’s ability to empower youths, to instill in them more than just debate or analytical skills, to teach them to be more open, compassionate and passionate people.
We’re all humans. Therefore, by definition, we’re not perfect; so everyone needs something to keep him/her going. Some of my friends have tired of MUN and feel that the speeches we make and the resolutions we draft are “fake” and “phony”. I think it’s unfortunate that they’ve lost their motivation, their inspiration for MUN. I was extremely lucky to have attended QLC and re-affirmed my love for MUN because of the overwhelmingly friendly people of another culture, because of the individuals who took action to make a difference. These people have the means to do so but more importantly, chose to do so.
Therefore, to answer the question, “Who wins in MUN?” I reply, after experiencing all that I’ve experienced at the QLC, “Winners in MUN are the ones who give to others as much as participation in the activity has given them.” It’s not a simple answer. It doesn’t arbitrarily point to easily-identifiable individuals as winners. But the best things in life aren’t always simple. Some are complex. MUN is complex but that’s the beauty of it.