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Debating Global Issues on An International Scale: Model United Nations

By Marc Pham

Staff Writer

Model United Nations (MUN for short) describes an academic simulation of the United Nations in which students play the part of delegates representing various countries, organisations, or people. They delve into real-world issues, past and present, through the lens of their assigned party’s values and policies. Dating back to 1921 at Oxford University, England, MUN conferences quickly became popular in the United States, and eventually the rest of the world.

Lucas Hernandez, a first-year student from Colombia, describes his first experience with MUN in his home country as ‘very enriching.’ “Ever since my first conference [in 2016], I realised how much love I had for debating, for representing a country on a global stage.” After starting studies at Dawson, he found a community that shares the same love and ambition as he does in the Dawson College Model UN, or DCMUN for short. “I came here from another school, so I didn't have pretty much many friends,” Lucas opened up. “But once I got into DCMUN, I found one of the biggest and most dearest groups to my heart, a group where I felt I belong.”

Model UN is a great first step to kickstart your interest in public speaking, foreign affairs, and even just self-amelioration - even if you have no prior experience in such fields. “I never did MUN before this, but I got to know about it through a friend,” said James Thomas Reid, a second-year in Liberal Arts. “She told me that we could experience learning about different countries and whatnot. I’ve never done anything like that before, so why not give it a try?”

In a MUN conference, students, referred to as ‘delegates’, must cooperate with representatives of other countries using their academic research, diplomacy, and public speaking skills. By giving speeches, negotiating with their peers, and writing joint directives, countries can come together with a pragmatic solution for global topics such as climate change, medical technology, the stock market, etc.

Bahara Mominzada, a Law, Society, and Justice student, talked about her first experience with MUN at the Secondary Schools United Nations Symposium (SSUNS) in her first semester: “My committee was on the UNHCR (the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) - we were bringing up issues of refugees seeking asylum in other countries and how we, as host countries, can facilitate [this] and offer them services with settling down. We came up with a lot of solutions concerning transport, shelters, language barriers, and such.”

Outside the formal, professional setting, you will find yourself socialising and bonding with other delegates. Though you will most frequently mingle with Canadians from other provinces and Americans, MUN conferences are attended by students from all over the world, all looking to further their academic journey, foster connections, or just have fun. Lucas recalled fraternising with his fellow Latin Americans hailing from Venezuela and Peru, while James mentioned meeting delegates from Europe and Asia, like the Netherlands and the Philippines!

“Getting to talk to different people from other countries and seeing what their experiences are like in their home countries is an enriching experience,” James explained. “Sometimes it might be intimidating to talk to strangers, but at the end of the day, we're all human beings and all have our own feelings. It's good to just broaden our world a little bit more.”

The thought of socialisation and public speaking may have us anxiety-ridden students quaking in our boots. Rest assured, because DCMUN always has your back and will aid you every step along the way, as touted by Leah Fisher, a first-year Social Science student. “When we go to conferences, they ask you all, ‘How's it going? How are you feeling?’ We went out for lunch and dinner together, and we hung out together during the breaks. They're just generally a really nice group of people, and it's a really nice ambiance to make new friends in.”

Alongside Julian Nemeth of the Humanities Faculty and Nancy Rebelo of the History Faculty, every member of the Dawson delegation is friendly and constructive towards one another. Should you ever need any help with writing a position paper or a resolution paper, or with improving your oral skills, the executive team, consisting of second-year students all adept in MUN, will gladly give you a guiding hand by hosting a group training session, or just one-on-one. Everybody has got your back if you seek to improve on anything.

“It looks scary at first because it is a lot of work, but once you try it out, you’re gonna see that it is so much fun. Even though it feels like you're constantly on your toes, a lot of fun comes from that adrenaline - it’s exhilarating! It's definitely worth your while.” - Leah Fisher

“Don't take it as an academic objective but as a social and fun extracurricular because that is what it's meant to be. At the end of the day, you’re just going around in suits and debating - what comes up to it if you’re not having fun?”, concluded Lucas Hernandez. “It really goes to show how not only important, but how beautiful of a project it is for us students.”

Dawson Delegation at SSUNS 2023 (via Layla Kosara, DCMUN executive)



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