Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Why MUN Matters - "The Most Rewarding Activity That I Have Ever Done"

By Susie Wang

Susie is a full-time graduate student at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. She is now participating in an exchange program with the University of Sydney this fall to advance her professional knowledge in the Asia-Pacific region. Originally from Wuhan, China, Susie has had seven years of Model UN experience.

My teacher Mr. Ding introduced Model UN to me when I was a freshman in high school. Growing up in China, I did not care much about politics and barely knew anything related to international affairs. I just regarded Model UN as a good opportunity for me to improve my language skills and would like to challenge myself because it requires the participants to negotiate, give speeches, and write papers in English.

My first MUN conference was held here in Washington, D.C. At that time, I was intimidated by those American students. Although I never considered myself as a shy kid that is not willing to speak in public, it was still challenging for me to engage in the meeting because I did not really understand the language and all of the other delegates looked taller and stronger than me. I ended up skipping most of the sessions and having pizzas with my Chinese friends. As a little girl, who only craved for pizzas, I could never imagine that I would become a graduate student studying in the school that is located in downtown D.C. with a major of international affairs. I became who I am because of MUN.

When I went back to China after my first and embarrassing MUN conference, I decided to participate in several MUN conferences in China and started to introduce this activity to some of my classmates. As the leader of the MUN team in our school, I designed and facilitated MUN workshops to help the kids to get a better understanding about the MUN rules and procedures, as well as world affairs. I even wrote letters to their parents explaining how MUN can benefit their kids. I continued my cause of promoting MUN when I was in college and I started to go to those regional and national conferences where I met students from all around the country.

MUN turned out to be the most rewarding activity that I have ever done. Since I would regard each time representing a nation the chance to speak for the country after solitary researching, pondering and discussing, my participation into each conference would start at several weeks before the real meeting, if not immediately after the topic being revealed to us. Only with weeks of retrieving and studying as many important documents regarding the conference topic as I could reach would I be ensured a positive possibility of good performance. In addition to personal preparation, capacities of communication and teamwork were also indispensable, as the realization of the maximum common interests among the bloc could only achieve after bloc members working out a proper Draft Resolution and a satisfying plan to lobby the Draft Resolution together, and fulfilling a successful debate with the competing bloc. Throughout times of UN conferences, I did hone myself greatly in those abilities and being a leader more often than not in the blocs I belonged to, I also developed my leadership greatly.

On top of the development of my abilities, I received remarkable exposure to various topics relating to international relations, such as economic development, international security, environment protection, as well as disarmament. When preparing the meetings for those topics, I cultivated in myself a passion in international relations through the process of studying the international hot topics and of figuring out my thinking of solutions. In most of my attempts, I would apply the liberalism believing that the international community could keep an order in the constraints and coordination regarding international organizations and international laws, and states could coordinate their conflicts through channels including institutional arrangements, social interactions, trades, and contracts.

The past efforts to establish international organizations and norms have contributed to today's relatively orderly and peaceful situation: we can work together to face global problems. Being convinced of the significance of international organizations, I was looking forward to making my contributions to the cause. That is why I decided to study International Affairs in graduate school, regardless of the fact that it is such an unpopular major among my Chinese peers. MUN not only helped me to find the direction of my life but also shaped my personality. It encouraged me to not just be satisfied with what I got, but to care about the suffering of mankind. It inspired me to be kind, patient, and respect the opponent since I need to work with people from different backgrounds and with different interests all the time. I also got a lot of close friends, because MUN allowed me to meet people who are also interested in international affairs, public speaking, debates, and English (as a second language).

Now, I worked as a program assistant at Global Classroom DC, my team and I are working to design curriculums and workshops that introduce global issues and MUN to middle school and high school students. I am so excited to continue to be an advocator and educator for MUN and international affairs, and I firmly believe that it is beneficial to all.

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