By Shu Ye '18
I joined TASIS Model UN (MUN) in June 2016. After one semester of weekly meetings and training, I accompanied two faculty leaders—Mr. Federico and Mr. Shea—and 13 other students on a trip to the Netherlands to attend The Hague International Model United Nations (THIMUN) conference at the end of January. The conference lasted for a week and included resolution workshops, debates, voting, and school-based cultural events. As a member of MUN, I am here to show you the reasons why YOU should join us next year.
1. It is a place to make friends.
This is a great place to find “intelligent” friends. The process of MUN provides a platform for everyone to talk to each other and communicate their unique ideas about social, economical, and political issues. You will discover that every individual in the conference is so well-informed that you can learn a lot from them.
MUNers are normally very friendly and outgoing—even if a few of them will be kind of aggressive because the conference is actually really competitive!
2. It is an extremely international experience.
The meeting is held in the World Forum Convention Center, and every year there are more than 3000 students and faculty members at this event. Even though the conference is located in Europe, there are also schools from countries in other continents, such as China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Morocco, Thailand, etc. People speak different languages, represent different countries, and have different educational backgrounds.
During the five days of communicating with these groups, you will get to know what life is like in different countries, and it is always interesting and surprising to seek the common connection between you and your new friends.
3. It trains you to be courageous.
You are not going to MUN just to vote. Your main goal is to get YOUR resolution passed. You have to do everything to defend your country’s privileges, your clauses in the resolution, and your resolution as a whole. During the resolution workshop, delegates are separated into groups and work on one resolution. I still remember how much effort I put in to persuade others to support my clauses about establishing an equal rights collaboration and providing equal education (since I represented the United Nations Democracy Fund) in our resolution about “culture as a tool of sustainable development.”
I am a very quiet person, but during the first day at the conference, I forced myself to be more outgoing—to be brave enough to speak up about my own ideas. By making short speeches and providing detailed explanations, I successfully retained my clauses in the final resolution.
The more you get involved, the more fun you will have.
4. It challenges you to take leadership.
Since there is only one resolution for each group, only one country can be the main submitter of the resolution. Being a main submitter and getting the resolution passed is the best thing people can achieve in MUN. Almost every MUNer wants to be the main submitter, so this makes the conference more competitive and intensive.
On my first day, everyone used their charisma to get others’ support, using their sense of leadership to convince others of their strength. Even though it sounds very intimidating, it is actually very enjoyable to see everyone “pretend” they are mature, open-minded adults—walking around the committee to meet people and be popular. It was also a good exercise for myself. Even though I did not eventually become a main submitter, I tried to take on some other responsibilities, such as helping students in my group write their resolutions, editing the whole resolution to make it more solid, and organizing the preparation of our speech for the debate.
5. It includes a lot of great and hilarious debates.
I witnessed some amazing debates. The delegate of India went on the stage, created an improvisational poem to speak against the resolution, and won a huge applause (even though clapping is not allowed). I saw main submitters speak confidently and fluently, and their language was so sophisticated that it made them sound like real politicians. Meanwhile, some delegates created so much fun during the debate time. I remember one delegate, who did not agree with the resolution submitted by the US, said, “This resolution is not as useful as Barack Obama!” Everyone was so shocked and started laughing. The Chairs had to put so much effort into getting the committee back to order.
You might say that getting on the stage and facing almost 200 people is very terrifying; however, remember that you can also simply raise a question to the speaker. As soon as you get used to this nervous feeling, you will be more confident when you get on the stage. You do not have to be a perfect English speaker, but you have to be a brave speaker. It will be such a pity if you keep silent and let others make the point you also have.
6. It is very realistic.
In order to be authentic, the conference has a set of rules. For example, people cannot use first-person singular—instead they have to call themselves “This delegate,” “The delegate of XX,” or “We” to show that they represent a country/organization as a whole and their opinions are the opinions of a group of people. Each speaker has to greet the Chairs and the delegates. When they finish speaking, they have to “yield the floor back to the Chair.” Delegates say “second” or “objection” to show whether they are for or against one suggestion. People may have never heard of these terms in their daily lives, but all these rules make the conference more serious and formal.
In the end, I felt like I learnt a different “language,” and you will never know how interesting the process is until you attend the conference.
7. It helps you get to know the world.
Stay at campus all the time? Do not have the chance to read the news? Except homework, there is nothing to care about? Attending MUN is one of the best ways to get to know about things happening around you.
You will realize that there are not only strong countries in the United Nation, but also other small countries that have their own concerns and goals. You will realize that the UN is not just a single organization—instead, there are many branches/organizations, all focusing on different aspects of global issues, established by the UN. You will find out that there are so many things going on in this world that you have never noticed: many parts of the world still need equality, suffer from war, face severe environmental issues, and so on.
By doing research on culture and sustainable development, I was surprised by the huge influence of cultural industries on our global economy. The word “culture” is not abstract to me anymore. My MUN experience deepened my understanding of global industrialization. The world is much bigger than you think, and MUN is the lens to view current events and the rest of our global society.
8. The country has a unique atmosphere.
The Netherlands, one of the most liberal countries in the world, is known for its unique culture and arts. The trip is not only about MUN—at the same time, you also get the chance to immerse yourself in this country. We mainly stayed in The Hague during the week. Every day we took the tram, which is very convenient and fast, and passed through buildings that are combinations of classics and modernism. We saw Girl With A Pearl Earring in Mauritshuis, which was a dream-come-true for me. We also took a half-day trip to Amsterdam, a city full of liberty and arts: The Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the crowded city center. Seeing the Night Watch by Rembrandt made my trip unforgettable.
9. The food is international as well.
Dinner was a highlight of each day for TASIS MUNers. Thanks to Mr. Federico and Mr. Shea for arranging those great restaurants! Every day, after eight hours of hard work, we finally got the chance to have fun. Our dinner was as international as THIMUN: we ate Thai food, Sushi buffet, Brazil barbeque, burgers, Greek food, and regional fusion food in The Hague and Amsterdam. We ate, relaxed, and experienced the various cultures in a different way.
If you a food lover, this is the trip you definitely do not want to miss.