By Ryan Villanueva, Co-founder of Best Delegate and this year’s Director Training Institute leader at THIMUN Qatar 2016.
I love showing a fellow professional what makes Model UN such an awesome and life-changing activity. Especially someone who’s new to MUN — their eyes pop out when they realize how big Model UN is, how much it differs all over the world, how educationally rich and deep it is, and how much more their students can get out of it.
Last month I had the pleasure of working with nearly 40 teachers and educators as part of the MUN Director Institute at THIMUN Qatar. It’s the fourth Director Institute that Best Delegate has run in Qatar — QLC’14, TQ’15, QLC’15, and now TQ’16. And at the same time that I was leading the Institute in Qatar, my co-founder KFC was leading the MUN Director Institute at THIMUN Hague.
I was pleasantly surprised by how diverse the directors were. Directors came from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, DR Congo, South Africa, China, Taiwan, and more. There were experienced teachers who were brand new to Model UN, younger teachers who were responsible for their school’s MUN program, university students from O-MUN and the young leaders from HELA.
The Director Institute featured Best Delegate’s Level 1 Director Program. Designed for teachers who are new to Model UN, the objective of the program was to explain how MUN works and show teachers how to prepare their students for conferences.
On the Thursday of the conference, I kicked off the program with a hallmark Best Delegate lesson, “Fruits and Vegetables.” Directors represented different fruits and vegetables, debated which was better, and wrote salad recipes.
This activity is great for students but I love watching directors go through it. They’re always nervous at first but then they really get into it, making up funny speeches; the vegetables argue that they’re healthier but the fruits claim kids don’t eat vegetables. Directors also really get into writing salad recipes, which is a “head fake” for resolution writing.
After Fruits and Vegetables, I followed with a lesson on the United Nations. I studied political science in college and I enjoy teaching others about this major global institution we are simulating in Model UN and the very important work that it does. But what makes this lesson really fun is pointing out the tensions of the UN, like how its purpose is to help the world, and yet it is constrained by national sovereignty and each country pursuing its self-interest. I show teachers that students get to explore this tension through Model UN.
The rest of the program continued with lessons on how directors should prepare students for Model UN conferences. Directors learned how to create country profiles, research binders, position papers, opening speeches, and draft resolutions. I provided tips on how to conduct online research about the United Nations and country policy and how to give students improve their public speaking.
On the Friday morning of the conference, directors got a chance to take on the role of delegates by participating in a 2-hour Director Debate. Directors had received country assignments prior to the conference, as well as a background guide on their topic, “Climate Change-Related Natural Disasters.”
Through the Director Debate, directors were able to apply the skills they had learned through the Level 1 Program. They gave opening speeches, engaged in lobbying, drafted resolutions, and debated them. I served as chair, and I would take the opportunity to pause to make sure directors understood what was happening in committee and answer questions about procedure.
For many directors, the debate is when everything “clicks.” They get to see how rules of procedure work, how to make points and motions. They also get to experience firsthand the nervousness of making that opening speech, the fear of public speaking, the chaos of lobbying and resolution writing, the thrill of debating a resolution and raising a good POI — and how much fun Mode UN can be! After the debate, Directors are able to better empathize with their students.
After lunch on Friday, directors had the option to take a Certification Exam. The exam had 35 multiple choice and short answer questions on the United Nations, rules of procedure, research, public speaking, and resolution writing. Many directors were nervous about the exam — they were cramming during lunch!
A score of 80% was required to pass the exam. Results were announced a week after the conference ended. 25 directors took the exam and 44% passed.
The MUN Director Institute is the first of its kind: a Model UN professional development opportunity designed to help teachers and educators understand Model UN and empower their students. Teachers are heroes and I’m thankful for the opportunity to work with them. I especially appreciate it because if I can impact a single teacher, they will impact all of their students.
I hope that the teachers who participated in last month’s Director Institutes in both Qatar and The Hague take what they learned back to their home countries and empower their students to lead through Model UN.
Interested in the next Director Institute? Plans are in the works for Qatar Leadership Conference 2016!