Reflections on Model United Nations

      A couple hundred colleges from across the globe. Thousands of eager students ready to debate. Four days of pretending to be a delegate to the United Nations. That’s what you’re told you’re in for when you join Eastern’s Model United Nations (MUN) club. They tell you what to expect, but it doesn’t quite do it justice. The experience we had over the long-weekend trip to Boston for the 63rd Harvard National Model United Nations conference was a memory none of us in the club will soon forget.

      Model United Nations is a debate/simulation for which students do research and prepare arguments on their assigned topics for their separate committees. There’s a catch though. You don’t argue from your own perspective, but instead take on the role of a delegate from one of the real United Nations member states. You need to understand where your nation stands on the topics and be able to articulate their position in committee. There are several committees ranging from general assemblies to economic and social councils and even specialized committees set in the past or in the future. Ever wonder what it’s like to handle the Cambodian invasion of 1979 or the energy crisis of 2033?

      This year, Eastern University represented Costa Rica. So, beginning in the fall, we studied the country and its position on the different topics assigned to us. We met to practice parliamentary procedure and had mock debates on issues both serious and light-hearted (like which cartoon TV channel is the best). Scrambling together under the leadership of Douglas Parry, the president of the club, and Professor Alexander we gathered the necessary resources and managed to secure transportation. Singing songs, sharing stories and stopping for lunch, we make the six-hour journey to Boston early that Thursday morning.

      Upon arriving at the conference, the few of us who have been there before enjoy the look of awe on the faces of the newcomers and settle in for opening ceremonies. In the massive ballroom of the Boston Park Plaza we sit surrounded by thousands of delegates. After a short presentation we depart to our separate committees. In committee, everything is formal, and the debates are intelligent and fierce. Harvard students in costume further enhance the experience by showing up as characters like protesters, the press and even the pope! After a long day of discussion in and out of committee, the delegates head out to explore the city, take tours of Harvard or participate in activities provided by the conference. For the more involved, there are awards and even internship opportunities.

      The conference was only a couple of days, but it felt like it was longer. There was a part of me that didn’t want it to end. If you have any interest in politics, history or just like fancy business suits, I promise you that you would enjoy the trip. It’s a growing club, and we hope to see more people join in the future.

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