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MS Students to Model United Nations Conference in Singapore (MUNOFS)
By Norapat (Pat) Vithawatpongsatip (Gr 8) and Palika Sridurongrit (Gr 8)
The Model United Nations is an organization that encourages students to advance their knowledge of foreign affairs and nurture their communications skills. In MUN, students can acquire important skills beneficial to their future in leadership, organization, teamwork, negotiation, public speaking and debating. At an MUN conference, each student delegate represents an assigned country (this time it was either Bolivia or Israel), a committee of their own choosing, ranging from Human Rights to UNICEF to Security Council, and a few topics on which they can research in advance. In the months leading up to the MUN event, students are asked to prepare both an opening statement in which they express their viewpoints on each topic, as well as a resolution, which, though optional, helps students look professional. The students then present and debate resolutions on all sorts of current—and often controversial—events.
Last semester, 19 young RIS delegates flew to Singapore to participate in the 9th annual MUNOFS conference. Overseas Family International School (OFIS) hosted the event, and although many were first-timers at MUN, everyone agreed that it was an unforgettable experience. The MS portion of the conference was attended by 575 students from 22 different schools, some as far away as Jordan and Qatar.
Head speakers for the conference included Secretary-General Natasha Mubeen and Deputy-Secretary-Generals Ayushi Garg and Siddharth Srivastava. After welcome performances from OFIS students, the delegates headed to their respective committees and for workshops. In between sessions, snack breaks ensured that no one would feel too tired after a meeting. This was also time for students to meet with each other and compare experiences.
On the second day of the conference, opening statements were delivered, after which the delegates were given a few hours to lobby and collaborate with other people on a resolution for each topic. The resolution was brought up and debated. Delegates were then allowed to give points of information that questioned the speech and speaker’s motivations. Delegates were also advised to make amendments, which are suggested changes to the resolution. They debated on the chosen amendment, after which the chair called for a vote for For, Against, or Abstain. When there are more votes for For, then a resolution passes and clapping is in order. Passing a motion is the only time where a person should clap.
As a student who has attended the MUN conference, I would say that one needs to have skills in two specific areas in order to qualify—public speaking and social interaction. Being introverted and self-protective makes it challenging to talk to people, but since MUN basically encourages people to communicate, I was able to interact with a wide variety of people.
The majority of speeches made at MUN are written in advance. If you are not well-versed in public speaking, previously written speeches are accepted and are given the same consideration as memorized or improvised speeches. As long as you are a good writer and have a loud and clear voice, you are a good fit for MUN. Although it is advised to write a speech the night before a conference, I fell asleep before I could. I had to improvise, which is usually never good!
Refraining from casual language is also important, and I stayed true to that, despite occasional outbursts. Being extremely introverted, this program has really improved my social conversation skills as well as given me valuable insight on political, diplomatic, and solving social problems. I have learned how to hold serious conversations with other people, and I hope to continue this program as I’ve learned a great deal from this experience.
To this day, MUN is a highly respected organization that promotes positive behavior in students, while providing them with topical and political knowledge of certain countries. There are many reasons why approximately 3.75 million students throughout the world have joined this program. Many colleges also consider extracurricular activities, such as MUN, as boosting factors for applications. You are also able to travel the world and meet people you would never have met otherwise. To quote a student who joined MUN this year: “MUN is a great learning experience for everybody; it encourages students to move out of their comfort zone.”