My name is Sofija Lozovic and I am a senior at Webster University Vienna, where I am double majoring in International Relations and Psychology. I’ve been part of WebMUN’s organizing team since the very beginning and this year I’m honored and absolutely thrilled to be taking the position of Secretary-General at the conference. While WebMUN has only been around for a couple of years, it has grown remarkably and our team has ensured that we live up to our slogan – Revolutionizing MUNs. We are very excited to greet all the old faces and meet the new, as well as to show everyone what we have in store for this year’s conference!MUNPlanet: Nowadays, there is a Model UN conference almost everywhere you turn. When most of them follow the same principles, what makes WebMUN unique and different?
As previously mentioned, our slogan is “Revolutionizing MUNs,” which is our primary objective each year. In our first conference we introduced the concept of Interconnectivity, and last year we created the Diplomatic Corps committee. We also produce newscasts several times each day, which not only serve to inform the delegates of what’s going on around the conference, but are also a great source of entertainment, as we come up with and feature characters such as Ahmed the Egyptian hostage who had to be rescued from ISIS, or the hacker KuddlyKittenz57 who shut down the power in one of the committees, forcing the delegates to create and enforce a new Cyber Security law. In this way we not only introduce our participants to different scenarios, but also give them a good laugh. :)
MUNPlanet: In 2014, WebMUN invented the interconnectivity system and the Diplomatic Corps committee. Could you tell us more about this?
Interconnectivity is a system linking all the committees in the conference, which requires each delegate to be aware of the political environment outside his/her own committee, and demands that delegates from all committees cooperate in order to make decisions and resolve crises. Thus, we place our participants in a real world situation where their decisions impact and are impacted by individuals from other committees. The Diplomatic Corps work somewhat in the same way – they are a committee consisting of individuals representing some of the most influential or problematic countries in the conference. Their job is to go around all the other committees and voice the position of their country, as well as to aid in making decisions that concern their country in all committees.
MUNPlanet: This will be the third annual WebMUN. What inspired its creation? What was accomplished up until now?
WebMUN was the outcome of a small and diverse group of students from different backgrounds and with varying majors wanting to see a student-driven project that could bring together the Webster University community in creating a Model UN conference of its own. We wanted the conference to reflect the variation within the team, which inspired our slogan “Revolutionizing MUNs” and motivated us to make WebMUN a unique and innovative platform where students from different fields and with varying interests get together and collaborate to create something with a real and meaningful impact. So far WebMUN has been a great success, with participants joining from over 55 countries worldwide, as well as with a new and intriguing touch being added each year.
MUNPlanet: A conference can be judged by the number and diversity of its committees and delegates. This year’s edition will feature seven committees. What were the reasons behind choosing this set of committees and is there a committee that you are not organizing this year, but would love to include for the next edition?
The following committees will be featured in this year’s edition of WebMUN:
- United Nations Security Council
- European Council
- Diplomatic Corps
- Press Committee
Last year we had a larger number of committees, but this year we chose to decrease the number, but make new additions to the list of available positions, and we chose committees that will be most relevant to our topic and crises, but also tend to be favorites among delegates. While we could not integrate an NGO committee this year, we think it would be a splendid addition to our conference next October.
MUNPlanet: Your social program includes a traditional Austrian dinner. What are some dishes that your delegates have to try?
Austria is known for many things and, we’re happy to say that one of those is the food. Vienna, in particular, offers a wide variety of restaurants, cafés and taverns that we encourage our participants to explore. Some of the must-try dishes are the Wiener Schnitzel (a breaded and fried escalope with a side of parsley potatoes and cranberry sauce), the Wiener Apfelstrudel, as well as the Sacher and Linzer Torte (since Vienna is known for its pastries). Luckily for this year’s WebMUN participants, they will get a chance to try some of these for free at our traditional Austrian dinner!
MUNPlanet: Vienna is often referred to as the City of Dreams. What are some sights that the participants will get to see?
There are countless things to see in Vienna, the city which continues to top the lists of best place to live. Some of the things that should definitely not be missed are: the City Center or Innerstadt, where old historical and modern buildings encircle the beautiful Gothic and Romanesque styled St. Stephen’s Cathedral; The Vienna Ring Road, which folds itself around the central district of Vienna. Along the road you can see buildings such as The Vienna State Opera, The Austrian Parliament building, The Town Hall, and the Palace of Justice; and Prater, the former emperial hunting ground, which today is a large public park that includes the Wurstelprater Amusement Park and the Wiener Riesenrad, a 64 meters tall ferris wheel constructed in 1897 that today serve’s as the symbol of Vienna for many people.
MUNPlanet: This year’s theme is "Reform and Reconstruction: The Path Towards Prosperity and Security". Why did you pick this as a theme? What was the motivation behind it?
The theme “Reform and Reconstruction: The Path Towards Prosperity and Security” is meant to represent the common goals that we should strive to achieve – prosperity and security, as well as the means of doing so, which are namely reform and reconstruction. We live in a society with a threatened system of security, which puts both our present and future at risk. In order to not only restore and maintain international security, but also to ensure and further the prosperity of our society, we must recognize that new problems require new solutions, and that we cannot rely on outdated policies to resolve issues we’ve never encountered before. Thus, we must reform not only our legislative system, but also our way of thinking, and reconstruct these, along with our society.
MUNPlanet: How can the role of technology and new communities such as MUNPlanet affect the future of MUNs?
As a group that focuses on innovation, the WebMUN team not only recognizes, but also encourages the use of current, as well as new technology, especially in Model UNs. Aside from the endless pool of information that technology allows us to grasp, it also opens doors that we never could have imagined we’d be able to walk through before. MUN:Planet, for example, has allowed us to reach an entirely new group of individuals who share the same interests and passions as us, but are halfway across the world. Such communities are providing the necessary space for networking and communication, and encourage bright individuals of all backgrounds to provide insight into current issues, and ultimately make our world a better place.
MUNPlanet: Students benefit from MUNs in many ways. They get to develop their skills further, or develop new ones altogether. What would you say is the biggest benefit they will get from participating in this one?
First, Interconnectivity allows students who participate to not only learn about, and get the feel of, their own committee, but to also get to actively and frequently cooperate and exchange ideas across the various committees. Something that the Diplomatic Corps takes even further, by having delegates not be part of a single committee, but rather sit in and actively take part in various committee sessions across the entire conference. Secondly, WebMUN recognizes and utilizes its home university, Webster University’s, very diverse student body by introducing a media team that does live coverage, newscasts and various media work during the conference. Thereby giving a platform for media students, or tech-savvy participants, a chance to learn how to work in the field, as well as in a studio.
MUNPlanet: Once this year’s WebMUN is over, what three words would you like your participants to describe it with?
It’s difficult to encapsulate an experience like WebMUN in three words, especially when emotions are high as the end of the conference approaches. One word that we frequently hear after participants let out a deep breath at the closing ceremony is that it was crazy. Indeed, things take unexpected turns with our crises (which do also lead to the very well-known delegate frustration), a lot of very amusing role-playing takes place, and, of course, the social events are always… eventful. :) Although it’s a cliché, people do always make a point of how much fun it is, with a big favorite being our fictional characters, which appear throughout the conference. And finally, our participants tend to say that WebMUN is a one-of-a-kind experience, where they not only have a fantastic time, but also learn a great deal and make invaluable friendships that last. But instead of us telling you what it’s like, we invite you to join us and see for yourself what WebMUN is like!Sofija, thank you for devoting your time to MUN Spotlight and telling us more about you, your school and your conference. MUNPlanet strongly advises all MUNers to check it out. Good luck and we wish you all the best!