I still remember my first MUN conference. I was a high school
student in Johannesburg, barely spoke English, really shy kid, but all the cool
ones were doing MUN so I thought « Why not? ». Luckily enough, I was
paired with a friend of mine to represent Uganda in the Security Council (I still remember the
issues in Africa and the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict). Even though I did not speak much during the first debate, it
felt right to be there, I was absorbing all the information that was coming to
me, enjoying the heated debates between China and the United
States, trying to draw my own
conclusions on the topics.
At one point, a Chair I didn't know came into my committee room and asked for a Ugandan delegate. Not really knowing what he wanted to do with me, I raised and came up to him. He took me to the ICJ, where he told me I was going to be a witness for their case. I actually even remember my first sentence in this room « I am here as a citizen of Uganda, and not as a representative of my government ». There was a huge blank afterwards where everyone looked at me and then the trial went on. I came home, ran to my computer, logged on to Facebook and wrote « ICJ: scariest experience ever!!! » and got 20 likes.
From this moment I thought « Why on Earth did I not start MUN before???? ».
So this is how my MUN fever started.
As soon as I got to university, I looked for a MUN team and applied at the end of my first year for the year after. I got in, thank God, and enrolled as the secretary of the team. That was the year we went to BIMUN, Belgrade International Model UN, my first conference with LouvainMUN. It was a terrific experience and one of my best MUN conferences so far.
The year after I became vice-president, head of training of the team and had our largest success by winning 10 awards at the BISMUN conference in Bucharest. I must say, that was one of the most emotional moments of my life: seeing my delegation getting called delegate by delegate, committee after committee on the podium to win the “best delegate”, “future diplomat” and “honorary mention” titles made my heart go crazy. I was so proud of them and for once in my life, I felt like I had actually been useful.
My training team had trained all of them to become perfect delegates and all of their hard work was rewarded. No, no, I did not cry, but most of the team did, and I had tears coming up as fast as a high speed train. Even now, I have shivers thinking about this closing ceremony. If you ask me how we did it, I would say, once again, that it is not only about the academic preparation.
All of these delegates had the X-factor, they had guts, they were friends, and they sure showed this during the debates within their committees. The MUN training we give is not aimed at creating brand new persons; it is aimed at heightening their human qualities and making them realize how good of a delegate they may be.
And maybe this is the biggest lesson I learned from MUNs.
It does not matter how many awards you win, how many draft resolutions you sponsor, how many amendments you pass; these experiences build the person you want to become.
Maybe you felt like you deserved an award and you did not get it, so what? Fight harder for the next one; take a step back to jump forward, why does it matter? At the end of the day, you are the only one who knows what goal you want to reach and how you want to reach it.
My first MUN was not award-material, but my goal was to overcome my fear, and I succeeded.
Step by step, you will always find a way to reach your objectives, just give yourself the means.
Author: Gabrielle Orliange
Photo: Gabrielle Orliange