I think I have finally started to recover from a two-week-long Model United Nations-induced haze. I spent both this past weekend and the weekend previous at a Model UN conference, and I was reminded of how much I love Model UN and why it inspired me to pursue International Studies as a major here at Hopkins.
First, for those of you that don’t know, Model UN is the single greatest activity that has ever been created. Participants, called delegates, are assigned a position and a committee – typically a nation in a UN body, but could be a real person in a cabinet, and it could be in the present day or a historical time period. The main “goal” of a conference is to eventually produce a resolution, which outlines what the UN will do about a particular problem we are discussing. This process is, of course, a lot more complicated than just that. You not only have to make formal speeches on the topic, responding to points made by previous delegates and offering possible solutions, but also navigate group dynamics when you actually sit down to write the resolution with your bloc of allied nations. The work you’re doing over those four days feels so real, and sometimes you have to take a step back and say, “chill out.” But that’s probably because I am a very hype person (#nochill).
Two weekends ago, JHU’s traveling competition MUN team, HopMUN, went up to Boston to compete at Harvard’s college conference. I was with a partner, Sophie, and we were representing Japan in the UN’s Human Rights Council. We discussed the right to health worldwide and how to most effectively bring that right to the most people. We, as always, had an amazing time doing the actual committee work, but also hanging out with each other. As is MUN tradition, the delegate dance was a bit of a mess, but great all the same.
Even though the ~9-hour Greyhound ride~ up to Boston was probably the most stressful experience of my life, and even though we didn’t win an award for our work, it was completely worth it. The debate, writing, and interaction between everyone is a truly rewarding experience that sharpens so much more than just knowledge of global affairs. The other students I see at MUN conferences are probably going to be the people I work with for the rest of my life – I want to get to know them and their interests, too, not just their country’s policy.
THIS weekend, however, was a whole different Model UN ballgame. In addition to the competition team, Hopkins also has a group that runs a weekend conference for high schoolers, JHUMUNC. I did Model UN all four years of high school and it was so much fun to plan and prepare for a conference from the other side of the lens.
I was a dais member – like an assistant moderator – for the Papal States Committee, which was a committee with members of the College of Cardinals in 1450. Another amazing component to this was that the Papal States was one of four Italian Renaissance committees in JHUMUNC (which included dozens of other committees, too). So not only did our delegates have to handle Papal States-related issues (like the Pope being poisoned!), but also crises that concerned the entire Italian peninsula, like an invasion by the Ottoman Empire or possible alliances with the other three city-states, Florence, Venice, and Milan.
I love Model UN in all its forms – when I compete, when I moderate, when I’m winning, and when I’m stressed. Every minute counts in committee and I am building my speaking and interaction skills along the way. This activity has shaped my life in so many ways. I can’t tell you why I signed up for it my freshman year of high school: I basically just remember showing up at a meeting and going, “okay.” Over my high school career, I fell in love with the quirks and frustrations of this activity and I decided that I wanted to do it – or as close to it as I could get – for the rest of my life.
When I came to Hopkins, I tried to tell myself that I only wanted to help with the JHUMUNC conference, not actually compete myself. It would be too stressful, too much work. I could just do the research without the competition. But I decided to apply to HopMUN at the last minute because, despite my brain’s protests, my heart was still all in. And then, to my surprise, I made the cut and got into HopMUN. Now having had two weekends in a row to compare the two clubs, I am not going to decided which I like better, because I honestly can’t. I honest-to-god-no-shame love this activity in all its forms, and I’m so happy I still have three more years of my MUN career.