By Michelle Midzi-KentMUN Outreach Officer
If you think you’re going to go through your entire time at University with zero involvement in any societies, you are sadly mistaken. Societies are a massive part of the day-to-day on campus, with the University of Kent boasting an impressive 150+ societies to offer its students as means to make new friends, unwind amidst assignments, and keep the homesick blues at bay. So, it’s Freshers Week and you’re trying to decide what you want your identity to be from this moment on, until you graduate with your degree –will you be the athlete, the linguist, the artist or the chief connoisseur of the tea society? The aim of this piece isn’t to dissuade you from those aspirations, but rather highlight the ways in which joining the Kent MUN (Model United Nations) society will enrich your University experience, and help shape your character as well as contribute to your work portfolio for years to come.
Public speaking is a fact of life, and be it in a seminar room or at a workplace, it is important that our communication skills are at a good standard. While public speaking prowess may appear to come naturally to some more than others, none of us can escape the old adage of ‘practice makes perfect’; long before Martin Luther King Jr captivated the world with the tone and delivery of his I Have a Dream speech, he was building up its foundations by ministering to his congregation weekly. Clear and effective public speaking is a journey. In the Kent MUN society, we hold what are known as General Assemblies wherein everyone is encouraged to assume the identity of a country’s diplomat, and debate with the others on themed topics ranging from Human Rights to Nuclear Proliferation. The benefits of frequent and animated debate are immense, with individuals of different backgrounds being able to sharpen one another’s skills in a controlled and supportive environment. Ultimately, when any one of the MUN community’s numerous annual conferences comes along, you will be able to be a part of the Kent MUN delegation, proudly and confidently representing the society and University against other Universities from all over the UK and abroad. However, it’s important to keep in mind that rarely has anyone been awarded the title of Head Delegate at their very first conference. As a beginner, you will be amongst many other beginners and the aim of your first conference should be to enjoy yourself and amass as much experience as possible for your next conference!
Aside from speaking exercises and conferences, Kent MUN is dedicated to honouring MUN’s original mandate of being a vehicle to educate young people on the role of the United Nations (UN) by inviting esteemed UN and international relations specialists to speak on a host of current affairs topics, and perhaps conduct workshops. We are after all reputed for hosting more guest speakers than any other society on campus. For instance, this year we are honoured to be hosting the Bangladesh and Indonesian High Commissioner and Ambassador for an evening. Further, if you’re interested in travelling with the society, Kent MUN is entering the 2017-18 season with the promise of conducting occasional trips to attend relevant talks and workshops in nearby London and elsewhere. Be it within the University or out, Kent MUN has all its bases covered when it comes to offering you as many opportunities as possible to better yourself and become a more conscientious and qualified individual in the eyes of employers everywhere who recognize the value of MUN.
In a bid to make the MUN society bigger and better than previous years, our 2017-2018 secretariat has made moves to partner the society with the school of Politics and International Relations (PolIR). This partnership ensures that PolIR students enjoy free membership into the MUN society, as well as the opportunity to apply for the full sponsorship of their MUN conferences. Further, because the dates of conferences often coincide with our seminar/lecture timetables, this backing from the PolIR school simply adds more validation to your absence in the eyes of your seminar leaders and lecturers -you can now attend conferences with peace of mind that you won’t be punished for missing a seminar or lecture. While this MUN-PolIR partnership is huge step in the right direction, we aim to partner with as many of the other schools as possible (Business, Science, Art) to ensure that all our member enjoy equal opportunities.
Officialities aside, you’re probably wondering what our MUN socials are like! Past socials have involved everything from pizza nights, hypnosis night with a trained hypnotist, as well as collaborations with other societies on campus such as the Afro-Caribbean society for Black History Month. Once more, our 2017-18 secretariat promises to bring to you more fun and life-changing experiences that you won’t soon forget. Outside of the UKC campus, the MUN society holds an annual international social wherein we travel to another country to simply unwind and gain practical knowledge about the political practices and history of other countries. Past destinations of this annual social have included the Hague in the Netherlands, and this year we have Belgium, Panama, Spain and Italy in mind for our members.
Now, you’re probably questioning whether or not you fit the criteria of becoming a member of the Kent MUN society, but we are here to tell you that there are no special criteria –not past experience, not confidence, not excessive amounts of money and not in-depth political knowledge. Whether your degree is in the Arts, Sciences, Sports or Literature, your very existence already qualifies you to be able to better yourself and have a voice on the topics that dominate the world in which we live in. All we at Kent MUN ask of you, is that you come to our meetings open, friendly and committed.