How MUNs changed my life
My first steps – YEL Club
My MUN story begins on a Tuesday morning in my English lesson. My teacher Mrs Müller introduced a new, European project – the YEL-Club. Immediately, I was captivated by this new and interesting-sounding challenge and decided to join. Having participated in an exchange with a Russian school and having spent a year abroad in England, this was truly no surprise. Later that day, a friend of mine, Luisa, mentioned this project and expressed that she was very keen on participating, too. But she was not the only one, another six students from my year group showed a lot of enthusiasm. In our first session, we started with small team building activities to get into talking in English. Of course, we worked more serious later but this rather easy start in the project made it easier for a lot of us. We also did some general organisation, for example, the election of the presidents. I was lucky enough to be one of them, the other one being Luisa. As presidents, our task was to plan each YEL session and inform the other members about the structure, rules and procedures of MUNs. In addition, we practised debating in mock discussions, so that we would be prepared for our first ever MUN experience. Since the YEL-Club is a part of an ERASMUS+ project, we got this once in your lifetime chance in April 2016. This was ZAMUN 2016 (www.zamun.sk).
My first MUN experience – ZAMUN 2016
After weeks of preparation (getting the information of which committee we would be in, which country we would represent etc.), the first day of our first MUN finally arrived. Since we were eight students (the maximum is five), we were divided up, so that some of us were only in committee sessions while others were only in the General Assembly. Luisa and I formed the delegation of the Netherlands in the GA, which was about working on a “Framework for the Stability and Sustenance of Fossil Fuels and their Transition into Renewable Energy“. Both of us were actually nervously excited right before our opening speech. We had practised it over and over again because we wanted to share, meaning that each of us had about three paragraphs to present. After we had mastered this for us very new and exciting procedure, we watched the other, more experienced delegates at first. We got very keen on actively participating quite quickly, so we had us added to the general speaker’s list. We believed that an important aspect had not been taken into account, which was financing the suggested measures, so I gave a speech about it. We think that this, together with our creative and enthusiastic opening speech, brought us the honourable mention, of which we were (understandably, this was our first MUN) very proud indeed.
But not only that made this MUN unforgettable for us. Since we were members of the YEL-Club, we stayed for two days longer, working and learning together with the other international YEL-Clubs, which I found very enriching. At this MUN, we happened to spend a lot of enjoyable time with the Spanish YEL-Club. All in all, I had a lot of fun and luckily, we were invited to another MUN, ToMUN in Poland.
My second round – ToMUN 2016
My second MUN took place in Torun, the birthplace of Kopernikus, Poland. Here, Luisa and I were in the same committee again, but this time we represented quite different countries, Belarus and Denmark respectively. We were in the “Special Political and Decolonisation” committee, talking about four different topics. The structure of ToMUN is slightly different, which was very interesting to experience, too. This time, I had prepared a working paper on the “Unstable Situation in the Niger Delta“ leading into a draft resolution which also became the final resolution of our whole committee. In the final General Assembly, I presented this and again, without wanting to sound pretentious, I was a bit proud. This time, all of us participated more eagerly and understood more of the structure, which left us all with a very special feeling of self-confidence. As for the time spent not working, we enjoyed our time with each other mainly.
Long time no see – the second time in Žilina
My third MUN was in Žilina again, and this time I realised how well-established ZAMUN actually is and how experienced and so-to-say professional some of the delegates are. This time, I had a much more different country, Kazakhstan. The Netherlands and Denmark are roughly similar to Germany but Kazakhstan and its politics are not well-known. In addition, Kazakhstan tries to have good relations with Russia, China and the Western World. Now, this is definitely very difficult in reality, and on a smaller scale, too, especially if the topic of GA is the issue of religious freedom in Tibet because Kazakhstan would try to mediate between China and the Western World. However, this experience was, though challenging, very enriching.
So how has this affected my life?
Shortly after my first experience, I decided that I would like to study International Relations. Not only the Russian exchange and my year abroad but definitely all my experiences of MUNs were the source of this wish. They have given me an even broader understanding of international affairs and increased my political awareness. Besides, I have come to realise the great importance of economic and judicial aspects in our world even more. The course at the university includes all three aspects; politics, economics and law.
At all the MUNs, I learned that I loved debating and discussing, meeting people from different countries and cultures and getting to know their individual stories. Something that I have liked at each MUN was the number of interesting people I met, like the Spanish delegation in Žilina 2016, the Latvian delegation in Torun and the Israeli delegation in Žilina 2017 (and of course many more). This contact with other people broadens one’s horizon immensely and is something that I would wish everyone because I believe that, while it prevents stereotypes from manifesting and promotes mutual understanding, it is also very enriching for the individual.