Some of us have already had the pleasure to organize a Model UN in a foreign country as a non-native. The difference in organizing in a country and culture, which is not your own means that you have to rely more on the locals in the country. Most of the time it also works smoothly if you happen to find a very reliable and friendly local who is very ambitious as well.
However, from my own experience I can tell that even if you find the right people to help you out, they may not be able to figure out how the creative mind of a teenager works.This exactly happened to me a few years previously when I started working together with a high school located in Estonia to organize a Model UN for its students. I decided with them that it would be the best if the students and their teacher could decide on the name from a list already given to them to give some examples which names a Model UN may have. It was decided by the teacher and the pupils that they liked the name Mini MUN the best.
As the name had been on the list of possible Model UN names and I did not see anything wrong with it, the decision was made and the name of the Model UN to this day stayed the same. However, I now do recall of sometimes hearing some awkward giggles and seeing some students pulling funny faces when I used to say “Mini MUN” rather than “Mini Model UN”. Nevertheless, I ignored it during the first edition of Mini MUN and thought that it just must be something that high school students do when there is an outsider coming to their school.
This year I organized Mini MUN for the second time. The simulation went well and we had added one committee more and had this time around the pleasure of having students participating in the simulation from other nearby high schools. However, I still did hear some awkward giggles and saw some funny faces among my delegates whenever I said “Mini MUN” throughout the conference.
After the conference I happened to meet a few of the students in the city center of Tallinn, which is not a very big surprise in a country with a population of 1.3 million people. I was asked by them if I knew what “munn” means in Estonian language. I had no clue what it meant so I told them that I did not know. They told me that it means the sex organ of a man.
The first reaction I had was being in disbelief. You must understand that it is rather shocking to hear that you have been organizing a conference for high school level students for two years, which has had a very different meaning to them than what you had in mind. I also thought of changing the name from “Mini MUN” to Mini Model UN”, but I have also realized that with such creative delegates, it would not be a very classy move but the best would be to be able to laugh about one’s own mistakes for being the funny foreigner who does not speak the local language.
After telling some of my good friends from the Model UN society, one of them had a great idea of adding an introduction to the next years “Mini MUN” edition, which would be as follows:
“Are you tired of your everyday routine and would like to have some first-hand experience of what a real MUN feels like? Don't think too much about it! Join us today to experience the greatest MUN (we don't care about the size, rather how well it works) that Estonia has ever seen! PS: this is a group exercise with educational purposes, conceived to enhance the knowledge and the confidence of participants. We welcome both first-timers and experienced candidates. DON'T BE SHY!”
I am very convinced that the students would love such an introduction. However, what my experience with organizing Model UN’s for high school level students is that one has to be extra careful when choosing the name for it as they are a very creative bunch!