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MUNPlanet: Juliane, you are originally from Finland, and are currently studying in Germany. Tell us something about your life path, and how you dived into the world of MUNs.
Juliane: I come from a trilingual family. The most spoken language at my parents’ place is English, as it is the language both can communicate equally well. My actual mother tongues are Finnish and German. Growing up in an English, Finnish, German environment seems very natural to me as I was brought up in this wild mix of different languages. Outside home I was also surrounded by French and Dutch as I lived most of my childhood and most of my life in Belgium.
I moved to Finland at the age of 16 where I graduated from high school. Since I always felt most comfortable in an international environment, I decided to do my Bachelors in International Business Administration in Estonia. As the bachelor programme was fully in English and they also offered International Law and International Relations, the environment was truly international. In Tallinn University of Technology, I met a very intelligent Egyptian IR student who organized the first Model United Nations for university-level students in Estonia. I got hooked straight away and have been organizing Tallinn Model United Nations ever since.
Currently, I am in Germany, trying to find my German roots. I started with my Master degree on Business Administration last October. Regardless of the current distance, I am still a very active member and organizer of Tallinn Model United Nations and a very dedicated worker as the Head of International Affairs at United Nations Association Estonia.
Juliane: Even though TMUN, Tallinn will be organized for the fourth time this year, organizing an MUN in Estonia is still considered a new thing. I still meet a lot of young people in Estonia that have never heard of MUNs. We have tried our best to improve the situation and slowly with each year we have noticed that our work has not been in vain. We are becoming more visible in Estonia and also elsewhere. Getting sponsors and partners has become easier. It is very important for any MUN to be able to prove that the previous event has been successfully run. Also, the term “simulation games” has become more known as there have been organized more and more different simulation games.
Juliane: So far I have only been able to participate in two MUNs, but I have made plans to expand this list in the future. In my personal opinion and experience, I consider MUNs extremely addictive. It only took me to participate in one MUN to make me committed as a full member and organizer of Tallinn Model United Nations. The most addictive part in MUNs is that they are very interactive and fun. To be able to participate, one has to do detailed research, learn to listen to others and learn to speak and act to fit in a diplomatic environment. I find that there is no better way to learn how the UN functions.
Juliane: The reason why we became UNA-Estonia was because of TMUN. As we had previously proven to the Estonian MFA that we were capable of organizing TMUN and had been reliable to cooperate with, they suggested that they would like us to become UNA-Estonia. This was a great honor to us.
The experience that we made during TMUN helped us to become UNA Estonia. To be able to organize an MUN one has to be interested towards the United Nations, politics and diplomacy. The purpose of UNA-Estonia is to teach and to increase awareness among young people about the United Nations and diplomacy to name a few of them. In a Model United Nations the aim is similar, to increase awareness on the United Nations and teach diplomacy.
Currently, TMUN is a project under UNA-Estonia. We find this was the wisest decision as they are closely linked to each other. Next to TMUN, UNA Estonia makes school visits and organizes Open Lectures. We had the great honour to have Secretary-General of the United Nations H.E. Ban Ki-moon as our Guest Lecturer in our last November’s Public Lecture.
Juliane: The most important takeaways would surely be the knowledge on how to start an NGO from the very beginning. With finding the right group of people, pitching your idea to possible sponsors and partners, to become a more confident speaker and as a person and to become more open-minded towards new challenges.
Juliane: Estonia is a very high-tech country. One can find wireless internet access practically anywhere in the country – mostly for free. Skype is one of the more well-known success stories from Estonia, but as Estonia is considered the Silicon Valley of Europe, it is very likely that there will have more successful companies next to Skype.
The environment of Estonia and, especially in Tallinn, is very innovating. Entrepreneurship is considered as very usual in Estonia and pretty much every person currently has a start-up company, or has at least taken part in one.
In my opinion Estonia, and its capital Tallinn, are also a very stimulating environment for MUNers. Estonia has a very rich history with lots of different nations invading the country. However, Estonia received its Independence for the first time in 1918. The Republic of Estonia was restored peacefully in 1991 and Estonians are known as the only Nation that was able to fight for their Independence through singing. There is a lot to learn from Estonians who were able to restore their Independence in a peaceful manner.
Juliane: I see MUNs as a great opportunity for young people to get closer to the United Nations and to diplomacy in general. The increased dynamics and globalization of MUNs has in general increased the quality of them as more people know what to expect and there is more competition than ever before. Even though there is the increased competition inside the community, it has also had a good impact in creating better and stronger relations with other MUNs. In that sense one could argue that the increased competition has been a good thing.
Also, now that more people travel around the world to visit different MUN conferences, they have become more international. This is what the United Nations is all about: learn to communicate with people from other countries and be able to make diplomatic decisions together that would lead to the best possible outcome.
MUNPlanet: One of the goals of MUNPlanet is to get the brightest members of the community together to take part in a meaningful dialogue and interaction. Do you believe that MUNers can step forward and bring about the change as a transnational leadership force?
Juliane: I believe that the change towards a transnational leadership is already happening. Out of my own experience with MUNPlanet, I can tell that it truly is a great tool to connect with like-minded people with lots of important knowhow. I have made great connections through MUNPlanet and I am currently taking part in a project that can lead to a successful cross-border cooperation with great and lasting partnerships.
MUNPlanet: What would be your message to the MUNPlanet community?
Juliane: No man is a lonely island. To make something great, we need to build a strong community with people that are devoted and have the knowledge to get us even further.
*If you want to find out more about Juliane's experience with MUN organizing, check out Tallin Model United Nations: “Starting a New MUN Is Never Easy”