By Tais A. Ruiz Palacios, PR Coordinator 2020-2021
Joining Model United Nations, or MUN, has been one of the best decisions I have made in my life, one I never regretted. The thrill of a new session, the intrigue you feel when learning about a different country than my own, the bonding with my fellow team-members, and the great people you get to meet during the conferences. However, looking back to four years ago, back when I took part of my first training session and my first conference, I wish younger-me would have known certain details that 1) would have made my life much easier and, 2) would have made me join so much faster!!!
1. No one is a “prodigy”: we all started out as complete, and utterly lost “newbies”
In my first conference, I remember being discouraged by the many older and more-knowledgeable people, to the point I was reticent to talk in fear of getting my words mixed up and embarrassing myself. Yet, I swallowed my pride and participated, telling myself that if I had enough practice, maybe I could someday be as good as the “power delegates” were. When it was my turn to draft parts of the resolution (which I barely knew how to do), I put all of my effort into it, but still made some mistakes. And when it came to voting, I was so confused I almost ended up voting for the wrong resolution! I thought I did so badly for my first conference, and was just ready for it to be over and go home.
However, instead of remarks about how much I needed to learn or how much of a newbie I was, I received words of encouragement and praise for my efforts. Sure, I got some tips as to how to make my performance better, but the MUN community was so supportive that it did not feel like scathing critiques, but like kind words of advice. Over time, I got more and more confident in my abilities, and (as I like to think) I became one of the good, experienced delegates that I looked up to. Now, whenever I see a new face in TEIMUN Society, or at one of our conferences, I fondly remember how I used to be and think: “It’s okay, we’ve all been there and I’m sure you’re going to do great things”.
So, for anyone who is afraid of making mistakes, or of speaking out: we’ve all been there at some point!
2. It does wonders for your social life
A lot of people looked at me weirdly when I explained that I would voluntarily get up early to go to conferences, and dedicate one afternoon for training “for such a nerdy activity” that robbed me of my time to hang out with friends. In reality, MUN gave me some of the best friendships I have ever had, and since joining my social life has had a boost!
Not only do you meet like-minded people, but usually MUNs are not confined to a single faculty, a single school, or even to a single country! For example, in our flagship conference TEIMUN receives people from all over the world who is just as interested in international issues as you might be. TEIMUN Society also provides a great ground for meeting people from the University of Groningen, and even some internationals! While COVID-19 may have put a stop in many of our travel plans, it will not do so forever. Most MUN teams, such as TEIMUN Society, travel to different conferences throughout Europe, and even the world. Thus, without even noticing you might get to know people from all around the world. After 4 years of experience, I know people from countries from almost every continent (with the exception of the poles, of course). What a fun and creative way to continue building a network of friends and colleagues, am I right?
3. “There are only people from law, international relations and humanities…” is completely false!
Yes, I have to admit that MUN mostly attracts people from fields such as law, international relations, history, economy… BUT that does not mean that other faculties do not participate at all! After all, as mentioned in this post, MUN gives you the perfect opportunity to engage in political discourse, share your opinion about important subject-matters, and develop various soft skills that will help you in any career path you may choose to follow. From negotiation in the councils, to the academic writing you need to write a Draft Resolution, to the ability of multi-tasking and time management, all of these will definitely be useful at some point or another.
I have met biology students, engineering students, arts students, etc. who not only have participated as delegates in MUNs, but that have also won awards, chaired and even organised international conferences. Fun fact, the current Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, studied physics and electrical engineering! Discussions about international politics (and even politics in general) and innovative proposals for world issues is not reserved to a particular group of people, and neither is participating in an MUN conference! Are you still worried you might not know anyone at a conference? Convince your friends to sign up with you through our Buddy System! This will allow you to, as far as it is possible to do so, be in the same committee as your friend, which might make you more comfortable and less hesitant to participate.
I could go on and on about different tips and pieces of information to make your “MUN start” smoother, but the main one is to just dive in and enjoy the ride. Like with most things, experience is the best teacher. But don’t take my word for it: join our conferences, and see for yourself the magical experience that is an MUN conference, and enjoy!