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Jop: As a kid, I have always been interested in learning more about the world we live in. Reading up on everything there was to find on subjects like foreign cultures, interesting political issues, world news and things such as science and technological advancements, I quickly became more and more interested in international affairs. When the time came to choose at what high school I would be spending the next six years of my life, the decision was quickly made. Located in the city of Arnhem, one of the few Dutch ‘Internationally focused’ high schools was making way to receiving my undivided interest. This extraordinary school offers its students the ability to participate in its difficult but prestigious bilingual program, granting its students the ability to learn English, to travel abroad and to participate in the world of MUN.
As I enrolled in the bilingual program, I quickly came to realize that learning English was not going to be as easy as I thought. Struggling through my first two years of the bilingual program, I finally started to become more and more fluent in the language we as MUNers all aspire towards. Only in the fourth year of my high school course did I get in contact with the wonderful world of MUN. As I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine, he brought up the topic of MUNs. As I was not yet familiar with the world of MUN, he explained to me that our own school was organizing the LmunA - Lorentz Model United Nations Arnhem conference and that the organizing committee was one man short.
After having had my first glimpse at what MUNs would mean to me and my interests in international affairs, I was quick to fill up this proposed position and to participate in my very first MUN. Looking back at that moment I can now say that that conversation has changed my life in a very, very good way!
Jop: As said before, I have always had a great interest in what goes on around the world. With MUNs being one of the few places to meet international students, sharing your global perspective is what to me counts as one of the greatest qualities of MUN.
Furthermore, what I personally love about both organizing and participating in MUNs is the ability to expand my skillset. When I first joined the MUN team I was clueless about the workings of the United Nations, the organizing of events and public speaking. Because I started as an MUN organizer, I quickly learned the workings of the organizational structure within an MUN organizing committee. I got to witness how a large group of people, all with their own qualities and tasks, worked together to solve problems and successfully organize an MUN and was able to learn great things from both my fellow organizers and MUN directors.
When I later started participating in MUNs as a delegate, notions such as research reports, resolutions, committees, chairs, delegations and rules of procedures were all vague to me. Again, with the help of the MUN community, granting the ability to witness all these things first hand, I quickly expanded my knowledge and skill set and was able to know and do all these things in no time.
Overall, I believe that the meaning of MUN is very two sided. On the one side you have the social perspective of an MUN. Being able to meet new people, get in contact with new cultures, visit new countries and best of all make new friends is what I love about MUNs. On the other hand, the expansion of your knowledge on both international relations and the workings of the UN and being able to learn and practice skills such as public speaking and the writing of a research report is what to me make MUNs utterly superb.
Jop: For me, getting introduced to the world of MUN was a very new a refreshing experience. As I was introduced to the ‘ways’ of MUN without any previous knowledge of MUNs or the organizing of events or conferences, I found it fairly challenging to fit in. As with any new thing, it is important that when you start something, you finish it successfully and to your liking. The same thing went for my first MUN organizing experience. At the start, the learning curve was steep, where I had to learn everything from scratch. To my luck, my fellow organizers and my MUN directors were of great help in getting me acquainted with the workings of MUN organizing.
As I went through my first organizing experience, I picked up a great amount of knowledge on various aspects of MUN organization and MUN participation. When I then was invited to join my first ever MUN as a delegate, I had little trouble with participating and learning the way of MUN. Writing research reports and studying the issues were things I instantly started to like and was able to do fairly decently fairly quickly.
When my first actual encounter with a real live committee, I believe the ECOSOC committee, was finally there, I wasn’t exactly ‘harvey specter’ at the time. A nervous, brambling, and reasonably insecure me stood there in front of the committee, not knowing what to do or what to say. I must admit, that was not one of my finest moments. With loads of practice and a couple MUNs later, I can now say that my mastery of the way of MUN is proceeding with great success but that the road towards becoming a true master is worlds away.
Jop: We as the organizing committee of the LmunA conference have the honor of organizing the seventh edition of the Lorentz Model United Nations Arnhem conference. With this great honor set loose upon the LmunA organizing committee, the need and responsibility to finish the organizational process successfully is great. Our team has been working around the proverbial clock for the past seven months, working to solve the different challenges the organizing of an MUN poses. The different teams that make up our organizing committee have all been working on their own separate parts and have been making great progress towards successfully making the deadline for the third of October. The issues are planned, all the delegations have been assigned, our chairs are at the ready and the guest speakers are currently being called in.
Furthermore, as this year’s LmunA theme is: Rapprochement of culture: Overcoming barriers in cultural diversity, we put our focus on the UNESCO organization. I am happy to report that in collaboration with this organization, we will be hosting the Secretary General of the Dutch UNESCO organization, Mister Robert Quarles van Uffort, as this year’s keynote speaker. Overall, the preparations for the LmunA conference have been going superbly and we are looking forward to receiving all the delegations, chairs and guest speakers this October.
Jop: Within the LmunA organizing committee, we have an extensive group of people all working their separate parts to successfully organize the LmunA conference. As with any MUN conference, the top position within the organizing committee is held by the Secretary General. Below this person, we have the two Deputy Secretary Generals, one concerned with the internal affairs and one with the external affairs.
In this year’s LmunA conference I have the honor of representing the position of Deputy Secretary General Internal Affairs. This difficult but enjoyable assignment gives me responsibility over a large part of the organizational process. First and foremost, I have the responsibility over the guest speakers and keynote speaker. As said before, this task is fairly difficult but very rewarding at the same time, as I have the ability to invite the brightest specialists in the various fields this year’s issues are concerned with. Furthermore, myself together with the secretary General both have the responsibility over the choice of this year’s issues and the assignment of chair positions. Together with those responsibilities, I also look over the work of a number of people within the organizing committee to help them with decision making and to guide them to becoming even better organizers.
MUNPlanet: How did you come to join us at MUNPlanet and what is your experience as a member of the community so far?
Jop: As I had been part of the MUN world for some time, I was looking to expand my horizon and to meet more fellow MUNers. As I was scouring my Facebook wall one day, I stumbled upon a post made by a friend and fellow MUNer of mine. The post stated some sort of website that had recently gone into beta testing and was looking for enthusiastic MUNers that were willing to share their ideas on world politics, MUNs, the world news and many, many more subjects. After seeing this post, my dwelling mind was dwelling no more as I had finally found a place to meet so many fellow MUNers and share my ideas and insights on various subjects with the MUN community.
Today, I am still enjoying the MUNPlanet experience as much as the first day I signed on for the beta test. I have been reading up on so many interesting pieces written by many great contributors and have been frequently writing posts on both MUN organization and the many questions that are asked by the MUN community. After the great experience I’ve had working with the MUN community and to now be granted the honor of writing for Fridays with MUNPlanet I must say that the people at MUNPlanet have given us the opportunity to share our ideas and to change the world.
Jop: To my belief, every student that participates in an MUN is part of something bigger. A person that believes he or she was, can and will be able to change the world we live in and participates in MUNs has the potential to make a difference. As MUNs provide a platform for the brightest minded students that have interest in international relations, I believe that MUNs are a proverbial breeding ground for those who want to succeed in later life. Everyone from the organizing committee to new delegates all have one thing in common, they believe that change is possible. They want to work together, not only to provide themselves a grand learning experience but to also answer and tackle global questions that lay before them. I think that every single person that is part of the MUN community has the potential to work toward something better and that when these people collaborate, they can change the world.
MUNPlanet: The past decade has seen an increased dynamics and globalization of MUN as a concept. How do you see MUNs at the moment, and in the years ahead?
Jop: Currently, the world of MUN is a very dynamic mix of people, schools and organizations that are all interested in teaching young people like myself the workings of international relations and the United Nations; and to let students from across the planet speak their minds on world politics. As of the last few years, the MUN community has been growing strongly across the world.
To my knowledge, European schools and institutions have shown great interest in participating in and organizing MUNs and the world of MUN is getting increased attention from the outside world. As I have been part of the MUN community for a little while now, the developments made towards increasing publicity and getting more eager students to enroll in the wonderful world of MUN have been mesmerizing. Schools, together with organizations such as MUNPlanet have and will be expanding the reaches of MUN and will let more and more people from across the planet enjoy that what is so dear to us. The world of MUN!
Jop: The Netherlands has one of the biggest MUN communities in the world. On both high school and university level there are countless MUNs to choose from. Next to the LmunA conference, almost every international and bilingual school in the Netherlands has its own MUN club or organization. In my case, I try to visit and participate in many of these MUNs.
Having visited one of the Netherlands its best MUNs, the Haarlem Model United Nations conference, I am now trying to visit as many others as well. Furthermore, as many people might know, the The Hague International Model United Nations, the biggest high school MUN in the world, is also organized in Holland. This MUN not only functions as the most extensive MUN experience there is to find, but also provides the high school rules of procedures, blueprints for organizing your own MUN and hands out the THIMUN affiliations, of which I am proud to say the LmunA conference was granted last year. Overall, I am proud of the fact that the Dutch community provides such a broad platform for me and my fellow MUNers to participate in and organize many great Dutch conferences.
MUNPlanet: What are your future MUN plans?
Jop: Currently, I am very busy trying to visit as many conferences as I possibly can. In the near future, my first and most difficult task will be running the LmunA 2014 conference together with my fellow organizers. Next to this, I will also be chairing the GA4 committee at the Model United Nations of the International School of Stuttgart and am greatly looking forward to meeting all my fellow chairs and the many new faces present at the conference. After these two conferences, the Lorentz Lyceum MUN club will be traveling to many other conferences in Europe. I hope to visit the MUN conferences in Manchester and Athens together with my school its delegation and to participate in plenty other conferences on my own. After graduation, which I am sad to say will be within the coming year, I am also planning on prolonging my MUN career by participating in the many Dutch and international university level MUNs. I hope that my MUN career may go on for a very long time to come and that I may still meet as many of the people that make up the wonderful MUN community as possible.
Jop: Last but not least, I would like to thank all the people, organizations and MUNPlanet for providing me the wonderful time I have had during my MUN career. Furthermore, I hope that as many people from around the globe may participate in the brilliant world of MUN and that, with enough work, some of us may actually turn out to become the change that our world is in dire need of.
MUNPlanet: Jop, thank you for devoting your time to talking for Fridays With MUNPlanet. We wish you all the best in the future, and keep in touch.
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