For a lot of college students, Model UN is typically a distant and bitter memory from high school. The teacher would match partners, assign countries and force the students into debates that were of little interest to anybody. These assignments were dull to say the least, and often the partners did not get along. Therefore, willingly joining a Model United Nations team in college sounds like an absurd idea. However, college MUN has a lot more to offer than a flimsy high school MUN. Sounds crazy, but just hear it out.
College MUN teams have a lot of benefits that high school MUN simulation could never offer, such as working with the entire MUN team to represent the country, being allowed to decide which committee is preferred and being surrounded by students who are passionate about international government. This supportive and team-oriented environment allows for new friends, adventures and intellectual gain. Working on a project is always enticing, but doing it with people you love interacting with is 100 times better.
Yet, while those benefits are appealing, the list does not include the most exciting advantage of being on a college Model UN team: traveling. Every semester team members and faculty of the MUN team travel to where the conference is held. The two most famous conferences are held in the center of the global arena: Washington, D.C., and New York City. Students travel from all over the world to represent the countries assigned to their school.
Not only will members of the MUN teams be exposed to new cultures, but also to a vast number of nation-specific traditions; even researching the represented country can lead to new perspectives. On top of that, many universities offer the opportunity to travel internationally. After attending a Model United Nation conference, participants often say that they have gained a friend in every continent (maybe except for Antarctica).
While international and big-city conferences are always exciting, visiting smaller cities can be thrilling as well. Dr. William Fleming, professor of economics and Model United Nations advisor at St. Petersburg College, said, “When we went to Atlanta, I had the opportunity to show that students a lot of the black history of Atlanta that was very close to where we were staying.”
Dr. Fleming went on to say that he viewed MUN as a great opportunity for everyone, student and teachers alike. Immersing themselves in a different culture helps students to grow as individuals as well. Passing down communication, compromising and team-building skills to younger generations can only benefit society, not to mention the future of the United Nations.
However, the benefits come with many responsibilities. To support a nation’s position and write a paper from the perspective of the assigned country, the student has to be familiar with its history, policies and laws. It takes a lot of dedication to write a position paper, and a student has to set aside few hours every week to get the desired results.
Even with the immense responsibilities placed on students that participate in College Model UN, most members agree that it’s worth the effort. “Model United Nations has allowed me to expand my critical thinking and research skills, as well as my team working abilities. I’m enjoying working with my partner and the team, in general, and am very excited to go to New York in April,” a student diplomat on the Spring 2019 Model United Nations team at St. Petersburg College told me.
This year, St. Petersburg’s College MUN team is traveling to the NY Model United Nations conference and all members are extremely excited. Universities from across the country and across the world will be joining them in New York in order to attend one of the biggest MUN conferences of the year.
Collegiate Model United Nations is a wonderful opportunity for any student willing to participate. Not only does is come with the learning of new cultures and traditions, but with life-long friends as well. Traveling is more exciting than staying at home; familiarizing themselves with the history from another nation’s point of view is far more inspiring than sticking with the United State’s version.
Overall, the benefits far outweigh the efforts of writing the position paper. What are you waiting for?