Model United Nations hoping to dominate Miami conference
Andrea Hefferan | Online Editor
Politicians aren’t the only ones getting involved in world affairs.
Mason’s Model United Nations (MUN) is a club where discussing and enacting foreign policy is turned into a competition. Students mimic the actual United Nations, and win awards for performing well in conferences. They can receive Honorable Delegate, Outstanding Delegate, and Best Delegate, which is the highest award an individual can earn. If many people do well individually, the club as a whole can also be awarded these rankings.
On Sunday, February 24, MUN won an award for Outstanding Delegation at the Indiana University (IU) conference, marking this as the first time they have won a group award. Along with this, eight individuals received awards, which is more than the group has ever won.
Junior Harshi Ambati, who took home the award of Best Delegate for his committee, said MUN uses real-world situations to inspire teamwork and collaboration.
“(MUN) is a fun way of emulating history or realistic situations and working together to come up with solutions,” Ambati said. “It’s a lot of speaking, debating and persuasion.”
Senior Nikky Soni won the award of Best Delegate for her committee as well and has been a part of MUN for four years. Through that time, she said the club has exposed her to problems in the world she was previously ignorant about.
“It definitely provides you with a global perspective on everything,” Soni said. “It helps you understand what’s going on around you rather than being stuck in your own bubble and living your life without knowing what other people are going through. It’s not only policies and politics and the economy; it’s also realizing that other people around the world are going through all these social issues.”
All of the work put into MUN leads to the conferences, where the students are split into committees. With people from other schools, they discuss an assigned topic they research prior to the conference. Each student represents a certain country, and what they say in the conference must align with that country’s views. According to Junior Shreyas Pulluri, who received the award of Best Delegate for his committee, the majority of the work is done before the conference even starts.
“In the weeks leading up to an important conference we have to prep a lot because a lot of these delegates are coming from other highly favored schools where Model UN is a class, not even a club,” Pulluri said. “We have to focus on beating them, so you have to prep a lot on your topic and the general rules of the United Nations.”
Despite their successes, MUN isn’t going to stop pursuing even more victories. Their next conference will be at Miami University from April 6-7. As opposed to the 20 people who attended the IU conference, Soni said the upcoming conference will have almost 40 people participating.
“We’re definitely hoping to accomplish even more awards,” Soni said. “It’s about bringing everyone up to the same level and improving everyone’s skills by that conference because a lot of the people that are going to Miami are freshmen and people who didn’t get to go to IU. We want them to expand and get awards as well so they continue growing in the club.”
Because some people are more experienced than others, MUN’s goal for the Miami University conference is for all members of the club to compete at the same level, according to Soni.
“Our weekly meetings are going to be focused on prepping for Miami,” Soni said. “We’ll be holding mock committees, which is where we all take the form of a committee and how it would look at a conference. Our focus is on the preliminary procedure, prepping for the conference, and helping everyone else come up to the same level. Then we’ll have a whole team where everyone has the same skill set and can win awards, improve and participate in their conference.”
There are two different categories one can choose during a conference: General Assembly, where students discuss one topic the entire conference, and Crisis, which is more fast-paced with the situation constantly changing. In both categories, students have to stand out from the other competitors through the speed and quality which they present their ideas, Ambati said.
“A challenge during the conference itself is being able to think quickly on your feet,” Ambati said. “There are 30 people around you that are just as quick as you. You have to come up with a better idea than they do and present it before them.”
Along with discussing an assigned topic, a part of the conference includes writing and passing resolutions to enact policies that favor the student’s stance. The process helps club members not only expand their knowledge of global affairs but improve soft skills as well.
“It doesn’t just teach you about politics, it teaches you about negotiation,” Pulluri said. “A lot of times I had to merge my resolution with other people’s and oftentimes people’s names are taken off of the resolution even if they worked on it. That’s what happens in real life; sometimes you don’t always get credit for the work you do.”
For Soni, one of the largest impacts MUN has had on her has been the awareness she gained for what goes on in all parts of the world, particularly third-world countries. She believes that more people need to know what is going on globally, not only in developed countries like the United States. Through MUN, Soni is able to get a better understanding of the problems that affect places others do not always pay attention to.
“I think a lot of people in the school are definitely very limited in terms of perspective,” Soni said. “Even the people in the school that are very well-versed in what’s going on around the world only stick to these developed countries—the European developed world. A lot of people are lacking understanding of what’s going on outside this realm because it’s not publicized in American news. I would definitely not be paying as close of attention as I do to developing countries and their conflicts or issues as I do now if I didn’t have Model UN.”
Photo by Tanner Pearson.