The world has become a global village and no age is too young to prepare for the future. For school students, a Model United Nations (MUN) conference serves as an ideal stepping stone into the global arena.
What is MUN?
A MUN is a simulation of an actual United Nations conference, where students are tasked with solving a global issue through research, drafting, lobbying and debate to pass a suitable ‘resolution’.
Students take on the roles of delegates, speakers, and chairs, representing different countries and work together with other students from different backgrounds to take part in discussions and reach a solution for the agenda they are assigned.
While the existence of MUNs can be traced back to the U.S. in 1949, in India they started gaining popularity in 1996 and since then have been conducted on a regular basis at international and national levels. United Nations Information Centre – New Delhi collaborates with nearly 50 Model UN conferences per year in India, organised by schools and universities.
The agendas or topics taken up during the MUNs are a reflection of real-world issues discussed by the United Nations, and range from general topics such as rights of religious minorities to specific topics such as improvement of accident safeguards surrounding nuclear plants.
The entire process and discussion take place under formal ‘Rules of Procedure’ to truly model the format of the UN.
What are the benefits of attending a MUN?
Preparing and participating in a MUN helps students develop leadership skills, research, writing, public speaking, and problem-solving skills. Moreover, coming up with solutions that are acceptable to a majority of the representatives also inculcates skills of negotiation, conflict resolution, and cooperation.
Here are 10 important ways that participating in a MUN can help you in the future:
1. Worldly Knowledge
Keeping up with world affairs may get dull at times by simply reading news articles or watching video news programmes. By participating in MUNs, your knowledge of the world will increase tremendously as you represent a country at a ‘global’ level and interact with other delegates representing other countries.
As a delegate, you will be required to research your allotted countries in-depth, analysing and understanding their foreign policies and considering which factors would influence the behaviour of the country at an international level. As you study the intricacies of the issue – the background, history, treatment in the UN, and previous resolutions passed on it – you will gain practical and thorough knowledge of world affairs.
A MUN involves meeting new people, interacting with unfamiliar faces, working in teams to develop resolutions to assigned tasks and to express views in a self-assured manner. From preparing for the MUNs to the discussions, debates, and resolutions made during the MUN, the entire experience will serve to boost your confidence.
After participating in a MUN, you will feel much more comfortable about working with new people and expressing yourself easily. The confidence gained will help you in future interactions where you would need to express yourself in high-pressure situations.
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3. Analytical Skills
Astute analytical ability is a trait that helps you at every stage of life as well as in any career, by helping you solve problems through analysis. The MUN is an ideal place to hone analytical skills, as in a simulated environment you will be challenged and required to solve the task after examining the concerns of the other countries, past precedents and potential solutions to come up with an acceptable resolution.
4. Problem-Solving Skills
At its core, the MUN is based on problem-solving skills, as it places you at the centre of an organization designated to resolving global issues (albeit simulated). Thus, problem-solving is a skill that you will have to hone from the beginning of the MUN itself, learning how to identify the key components of a topic, determining factors to be kept in mind while deciding on the solution, and putting it all together to come up with a final resolution that satisfies all concerned countries.
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Diplomacy, or the art of negotiation, is not only restricted to conversations between two countries, but pertains to any purposeful exchange between two groups, and thus, is a very useful skill to possess. By practising diplomacy at the MUNs, you will become more knowledgeable and experienced on how to conduct negotiations between two groups in a tactful and result-oriented manner.
Apart from learning the skill of diplomacy, students aspiring to become professional diplomats can practice and groom themselves for the field by participating in MUNs, which are a real-life example of the life and work of professional diplomats.
6. Public Speaking
Developing efficient public speaking skills takes practice, and the MUNs provide an ideal platform where you can explore and improve your capabilities. Public speaking is an integral part of the MUNs, as you express your views and debate in front of an audience. Since you will make multiple speeches during the overall MUN event, you will have several opportunities to improve your public speaking prowess.
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Attending a MUN is an ideal way to network, make new friends and build connections that will come in handy later on. During a MUN, you will meet other delegates, senior delegates, organizers, co-sponsors, judges, and chairs of the event. By making new contacts and meeting possible mentors, you can cultivate your network for future use.
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8. Writing Skills
There is a hefty amount of writing involved at MUNs, including writing for speeches, writing position papers on the topic given for resolution, possible amendments, and finally, writing the resolution itself. In comparison to the writing you do at school, the writing you will work on in MUNs is a lot more disciplined and requires more creativity. Each writing piece involves research and analysis and will serve to groom your writing skills, a useful skill for college and professional life.
9. Leadership Skills
Considering all the benefits listed above, it is not a stretch to claim that your personality will flourish at MUNs. The independence, challenges, and teamwork will surely serve to enhance your leadership skills, as you take charge as a representative of a real-world country. You will be encouraged to take decisions and work out solutions as a leader for the country.
10. College Applications
MUNs are known for their quality, high standards, and difficulty levels, and participating in one will work as an asset when you apply for colleges and/or jobs. Top Ivy League colleges such as Yale and Harvard have been known to give additional consideration to students who have attended MUNs.
Even Indian universities are beginning to hold profile-based admissions (such as Liberal Arts colleges), where they assign significant weightage to extra-curricular activities.
Admissions officers and job interviewers look for candidates with discipline, confidence, analytical ability, and problem-solving skills; all traits that are exemplified by participating in MUNs.
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Model United Nations (MUN) conferences are an ideal way for you to challenge yourself and improve your professional skills, communication skills, and global acumen. The concept of MUNs may initially seem daunting, however, there are various MUN Training programs available where you can get a comprehensive overview and training ahead of the MUNs.
At the end of a MUN conference, the traits inculcated will serve you well in your future endeavours.
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