This article is published as part of MUN Spotlight, a special series dedicated to student conferences from around the globe. The aim of this series is to introduce conferences and their organizers to our MUNPlanet audience and beyond. Today we're taking you to Bayreuth, Germany, the heart of Wagner's melodies, for a special interview with the MAU Bayreuth team!
MUNPlanet: Please introduce yourself and your conference to our community.
We, the Model African Union Bayreuth e.V., will host the very first Model African Union Conference in Germany at the University of Bayreuth from the 21st - 24th April! Our conference goes by the slogan “Towards a peaceful, prosperous and more integrated Africa”, the official vision of the African Union.
The exceptional focus on Africa at the University of Bayreuth offers an especially rich background for our association and conference: Several Africa focused courses, a large number of students and PhD candidates with African origin, a library equipped with numerous scientific publications concerning Africa and many research projects in cooperation with the continent. Because of that diverse and supportive environment, Bayreuth is the ideal location for the first Model African Union in Germany!
MUNPlanet: Very short, for our impatient readers, why should delegates pick MAU Bayreuth over other conferences in the world?
Our delegates will profit from the familial atmosphere on the Bayreuthe campus, they will live the innovative experience that we as a team have been planning for one year and they will be part of the first conference of this kind in Germany!
MUNPlanet: MAU conferences aren’t as popular as MUN or MEU ones. Would you be up for a task to set up a trend for this type of conferences?
It is important to us to serve a social objective with this event: in the first place we would like to educate people about African societies and give them an understanding of contemporary Africa as a continent and its way towards a democratic union following the example set by other unions. The purpose is to contribute to reduce stereotypes and prejudices about Africa and African politics.
So of course then one of the aims of our association is indeed to share our experiences with other German Universities so that these may introduce MAU in their institutions and we can jointly promote our idea of an integration of African society among German students and scholars.
MUNPlanet: Bayreuth’s music festival dedicated to Richard Wagner is usually held between July and August, which might be disappointing for your delegates. Do you plan to recreate this atmosphere during socials?
The spirit during our conference will be in any case similar to the atmosphere during Wagner Festspiele: an international audience dressed nicely amidst highly ranked invited guests and hosts who care for everyone hospitably. Besides: The weekend our conference is taking place, Bayreuth has even something better to offer for our delegates than the Wagner Festspiele, whose operas usually cause redundant adrenaline rushes of which the delegates will have enough during the debating rounds: the opening of the garden festival and flora exposition (Landesgartenschau) is on the 22nd of April, as a relaxing contrast and balance to the debates.
MUNPlanet: How does the role of new technologies and new communities such as MUNPlanet affect the future of MAUs?
We hope to reach a diverse audience with our conference, which the community of MUNPlanet offers. Diversity and Sustainability are actually the key concepts that drive our conference. As for sustainability, the advantage of new technologies and communications platforms like MUNPlanet is to advertise our event without wasting paper on printing posters and such. We promote our event mainly on social platforms, websites and on monitors in our university, e.g.
MUNPlanet: Germany in general is known for good beer. Will Hefeweizen be the official drink for MAU Bayreuth?
Upper Franconia has the highest concentration of breweries in the whole of Germany! Bayreuth itself has several breweries, amongst them the famous Maisel’s, which is a Hefeweizen indeed. The delegates are welcome to join us, the coordinators, in the evenings after the debates for our daily “Feierabendbier”, which is the beer a German has after a day full of work has ended. During the debates we serve our delegates coffee and sparkling wine whilst the reception and ceremonies.
MUNPlanet: Which traits should a delegate have in order to claim best delegate award at MAU Bayreuth?
S/he should demonstrate solid debating skills, creative problem solving abilities, a fair and helpful attitude towards other delegates and a strong personal dedication towards the position s/he takes as a representative of an African Union member state.
MUNPLanet: Once the conference is over, what is the one sentence that you would like every delegate to leave with? ‘MAU Bayreuth 2016 was … (complete the thought)’
MAU Bayreuth 2016 was one of its kind!
MUNPlanet: Attending the conference is easy, but many don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes. What was the biggest obstacle regarding the organization process, and is there one advice that you’d like to give to future organizers?
Behind the scenes there is a busy team of volunteers who are all passionate about the same goal: providing the nicest first German MAU to our delegates. We are students who dedicate their time to pursuing the aims of our association and contributing our share to make the world more amicable - besides going to Uni and doing a regular job. An obstacle we and a lot of MUN or future MAU organisers have to combat with: No matter how early you start organising a thing, in the end almost everything becomes a race against time. But if you assemble a strong team which works in unison, you can manage every obstacle.
MUNPlanet: Beside model African Union, did you consider organizing Model United Nations Bayreuth conference, or they are too mainstream?
We have colleagues who surely would do great job organising a MUN Bayreuth!
MUNPlanet: What is your advice on the preparation process? What should delegates do prior to the conference in order to take the best from this experience?
A few days before the conference starts, the delegates shall hand in a short position paper on both of the topics discussed in the commission they have chosen. In order to do so, one usually needs to browse for literature and some specialised internet webpages (we will provide links on our website which sources to use!) as well as reading some current news to be able to evaluate the present situation in their country and to one topic in regard to the topics being discussed. It is furthermore of advantage if the delegate learns a little about the country’s history (be it political or economic), the demographic structure or the religious distribution. But no worries: we don’t expect our delegates to become an overall expert on the country they represent! We live in an information society so one can conduct the internet or our library during the conference breaks if anything is unclear. The delegates are also welcome to use dictionaries if they feel unsure about how that certain legal term is in English. The preparation as a delegate usually takes 2 days to one week.
Except for that, we expect our delegates to be willing to learn throughout the whole process - learn from their colleagues, from our guest speakers, from the debates ... it is a learning process beyond the preparation with books, newspapers and the internet!
MAU Bayreuth team, thank you for devoting your time to MUN Spotlight and telling us more about you and your conference. MUNPlanet is looking forward to your event and strongly advises all MUNers to check it out. Good luck and we wish you all the best!