By Joanna Veimou-KentMUN Events Officer 2017/2018
I am a little nervous about sharing this but here it goes:
*the world’s smallest violin starts playing*
When I was in my first year of high school, I had this huge crush on a guy who was two years older than me. This guy would regularly go on these “field trips” at The Hague, in London, in America. Being the stalker I am I found out that he was actually part of a school club called ‘Model U.N.”. Long story short, this is how my MUN career started.
So DO: follow your crush, something amazing might come out of it.
First conference I ever attended was a small three-day conference held at the German School of Athens. I was Yemen, and I was in the Environmental Committee. In Greek MUNs and The Hague they do things kind of differently: you write the resolution first, and then you merge with others and debate on them. So I show up, skirt and suit on point, with my resolution. Biggest fear on my mind: no one will want to merge with me. Fortunately, around 5 people wanted. Everyone told me I could not possibly be main submitter at my first conference, it’s impossible and I should just hope to make two or three speeches. In the end, I became main submitter, gave a fiery speech, and then had my resolution crush and burn with only 5 votes in favor. But DON’T: Think you can’t do it because it’s your first conference. And also DON’T: Think that just because your resolution didn’t pass you did bad.
The Hague International was my second conference. Head Delegate, Political Committee, had to give a speech in front of hundreds of people. Secret to handling that pressure: Except if you make a really really terrible mistake, no one is listening to you. Also the reason to DO: write an extraordinary speech so that people remember you. In the committee, I had the perfect alliance, the perfect speech, and (as it turns out) the perfectly plagiarized by my ally resolution. So DON’T EVER AND IN ANY CASE, plagiarize. You will get caught, your resolution will not be debated and your allies will hate you. I know I hated mine.
Third conference was at the German School of Athens, I was Head Delegate again and I had Libya. Libya was going through a tough time then and needed guns to handle the crisis. My initial speech stressed how important international cooperation is, how the United Nations help towards achieving that goal and why the audience would fall asleep while I was talking. So 5 speakers before my turn, I changed a few sentences and demanded that the other nations would stop being pretentious and give us weapons. Everyone started clapping even though the Secretary General had told them they were not allowed to. So DO: Say things you think you should really say instead of what you should say. [Side note: on that conference I said hi to a guy I met at The Hague and he said he does not know me]. DON’T: Pretend not to recognize people you have met before. It’s rude and they won’t follow you back on Instagram.
A year after I went to The Hague MUN again. I was in Disarmament Commission 2, which was held at the actual Organisation for the Proliferation of Chemical Weapons and I was representing Brunei Darussalam. The topic of the debate was the dispute in South China Sea. Brunei is actually part of the dispute, claiming one of the islands. Fortunately, I became friends with the two people sitting next to me: Brazil and Burkina Faso, to the point where they helped me get recognized when the chair just would not call on me. I then got up and viciously trashed the resolution that suggested all the islands were given to China. And this is why our current VP remembers me as an angry lady screaming to give me my islands back. DO keep in contact with people, you never know where you might see them again and DO fight for your country’s benefit.
After attending two more conferences in Greece, it was time for the Harvard High School MUN conference held in Boston. Me and another girl were the only seniors going, because it was common knowledge that you cannot go on a conference during the year you’re supposed to be studying for exams. I won’t say that not going didn’t cross my mind, because it did. But I thought to myself: if getting into a Greek university would require you to sacrifice this one in a lifetime opportunity, then maybe it is not worth it. Going to that conference, on the other hand, definitely was. I even had to fight to get my faculty advisor to make me head delegate. She decided that five of us had to write a speech, based on which it would be decided who would get it. Fortunately, I did. We were assigned literally the smallest country in the world before the Batican, the nation of Nauru. However, having a lot of native inhabitants, Nauru had a lot to say at the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, which I was a part of. Bottom line: Don’t think that a small country does not have a lot say in a debate, and do research your country.
Then I went on to get accepted to the University of Kent and the first thing I looked for at fresher’s fair was the Model United Nations Society. I was beyond overwhelmed when I found out not only that there was one, but it was also the largest society on campus. As a result, I went to 5 more conferences in the UK and Ireland, including one of the largest conferences in Europe, London International MUN. I was introduced to the world of crisis and learnt so much more. First, BE NICE to everyone. Find something you might have in common, especially with your chair. The person sitting next to you may be your next chair, or even Secretary General. And besides, except of a place full of cute guys with suits, MUN is also a great opportunity to network. Second, during debate, don’t be stuck in your own little bubble. Even if you don’t have anything to say, send a lot of notes in order to make allies. Third, it’s worth spending the money to go to all the socials. You might think staying home and working on your strategy might be a good idea, but how will you feel when last night’s drinking buddies show up in the debate with a whole new plan?
Finally, in March, I also got to go to the Olympics of MUN, Harvard WorldMun in Canada. When I got there though, everything seemed to be going wrong: placards got lost, our country was changed at the last minute, a suitcase was missing (keep in mind it’s Canada and it’s freezing cold), half of the delegates wanted to change hotels, the year’s heaviest snowstorm of the year was coming and my co head delegate was mad at me. Anyways, we survived the crisis and did well on the debate. It was also one of my first experiences as a double delegate. I made a lot of speeches and my partner handled the negotiations. At the end we managed to be co-submitters of a resolution. It was obviously an intimidating conference with all the members of the Secretariat being Harvard students and having delegations from major universities all over the world, but I met some amazing people and made great memories.As a member of Kent Model United Nations Society, I run for committee, officer, conference secretariat, chair, head delegate and delegate. My advice to future and current member would be to not give up, go to that conference, don’t think it’s not useful or irrelevant to your studies. Treat MUN as your job and not your hobby. Be social, make friends, flirt with the SG (a little bit- so that he/she likes you a little more) don’t straight up hit on him/her. Do wear the expensive shoes you bought, but always bring flats with you. Speak to a lot of people, even if they are not in your committee. I cannot count the times that people have asked me from where I know a person and I have said “Oh from MUN”. I cannot count the times my friends wanted to hang out but I was doing something relevant to MUN. I cannot count the times that people told me going to that conference was a bad idea but I went anyway. And it is all worth it.
I have always said that MUN is like a dysfunctional family, and in many cases you end up seeing the same people conference after conference. After thirteen conferences, going to them makes me feel like a gladiator in a suit (or maybe I watch too much Scandal). Until the next one!