Every delegate will remember their first speech delivered at a Model UN. All that frightening sensation in the pit of the belly, the racing pulse and sweaty palms that is insanely nerve-wrecking to stand in front of thirty critical and intelligent fellow delegates, brainstorming on ideas to do what grey-haired leaders at the official UN HQs often leave undone. Getting up to speak is like getting hit in a game of paintball. But with every speech you give, it hurts less and you become less afraid, and before you know it, you’re not nervous anymore.
Even though a Model UN committee has been witnessing highs and lows, forging of alliances, breaking of blocs, thought provoking as well as “MUN”dane discussions, Model United Nations (Model UN or MUN) is more than just a mock-simulation of the structures and functions of the United Nations. It is an opportunity to mould the youth of today to generate into a pool of world leaders for tomorrow.
From the likes of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to the famous T.V personality Ryan Seacrest, many Model UN participants have become leaders in diplomacy, politics, law and media. So it would be no surprise if your high school’s most active MUN’er turns out to be the next Supreme Court Judge or the next Indian Idol!
Even though the initial encounter with the MUN culture might lead you to question the frequently used terms like ‘GSL’ and ‘lobbying’, it is actually rather simple. In Model UN, young people play-role on high-level diplomats, representing the United Nations’ 193 member states. While negotiating economic crises in Zimbabwe, ensuring food security in Africa, protecting human rights in North Korea, or addressing the Israel-Palestine conflict, MUN participants acquire skills like on conflict resolution, public speaking and writing, but most importantly, it brings people of different cultures together.
Every delegate has their Model UN milestones that they cherish for years to come. Meeting NEIMUN trainer Miss Laurabeth Goldsmith through the first Model UN organisation of this region – North East India International Model United Nations (NEIMUN) was a breakthrough for me. An enthusiastic Model UN trainer with an indomitable spirit for women empowerment, Laurabeth taught me that, to be a leader is to bring out the best in others – a core principle that NEIMUN stands for. With their northeast-oriented goals, this model UN organisation seeks to create training grounds for our people, bringing us the best trainers from across the world, while emanating the belief that northeasterners today can make progress by leaps and bounds to become the leaders of tomorrow. This non-profit educational foundation, registered under the Indian Societies Registration Act of 1860, and run by enthusiastic young people from all over the Northeast, has held annual conferences in Kohima, Shillong and Guwahati. Three years on, NEIMUN has now established MUN clubs and associations across colleges and schools in Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Assam, and has also ventured beyond the Northeast, in its recent endeavor it launched the Kerala International MUN 2015, under its aegis. In the last three years, the evolution of NEIMUN has gone from training young leaders from different cultures, religions, nationalities and backgrounds to implementing their ideas of making a positive contribution to society, thus empowering them to present solutions to global challenges.
“Part of what makes model UN so interesting is that it keeps rapidly re-inventing itself, from the know-it-alls who jump at every opportunity to raise their placards, to the witty delegate who likes to have his say, even if it is just to fight the removal of a comma in a draft resolution. Today, many Model UN conferences hold simulations that are not UN committees. For instance, a recent MUN had an unconventional committee of the Game of Thrones – a fictional simulation where delegates represented Daenerys and Hodor amongst others”.
At one hand, you might even witness the delegate of USA frantically exchanging note chits with his Russian counterpart, and on the other, you might find the Indian delegate making a secret deal with Pakistan. Besides the abundance of possibilities that Model UN acknowledges, is that it also teaches you how to negotiate on issues regarding your own region. NEIMUN’s principle of promoting North East India as a strategic location for cultural exchange and multilateral democracy connecting South Asian Nations, along with its core objective of binding the diverse peoples of the northeast in a single thread of togetherness and unity, adds significance to it. In the month of October 2014, NEIMUN bounded the diverse peoples of the northeast in a single thread of togetherness and unity. Laurabeth made this gigantic task somewhat easier through her ideals on cross-cultural diversity. Today, when I look back at those three days of transformational experience, I realized the importance of the role Laurabeth has played and the enormity of the change NEIMUN has made.
Since one of the major goals of NEIMUN is to coordinate annual MUN conferences in different states across North East India, their annual conference for this year is scheduled to take place from the 21st to 24th of October 2016, in Dimapur, Nagaland. In its fourth session, NEIMUN will observe with double the gaiety, triple the diplomacy, and quadruple fun.
In an era of globalization, awareness has become internationally more important than ever. We find evidence of this through the enormity of the change that MUN chimes in the lives of many students. The main reason why students keep coming back to Model UN year after year is because it is fun! You know what they say, “Having fun in NEIMUN is MUNdatory!” Come and see what the excitement is all about. Join us this October, the NEIMUN 2016 in its tryst with diplomacy – ‘Bringing the world closer to the North East.’
Vaibhavi, a 12th grade student from the Army Public School, Guwahati. She has been in the Model UN circuit for the last 4 years and is a member of the International Press. She is working as the Deputy for Media and Communications NEIMUN 2016.