The first time I heard about a Model UN was by coincidence - at my university. A coincidence in that sense that I just really could not be bothered less to read the Information boards that were spread out in four different floors and where most of the advertisement were in Estonian. Being a foreigner living in Estonia and studying in English, the first thing you would not do is scroll through four different boards that are spread out in four different floors; just to accidentally run into an English pinned to the board next to the advertisements in a foreign language.
I applied and got accepted to join the Model United Nations organized by other students from my Tallinn University of Technology. As an International Business Administration student I quickly figured out that the organizers and most participants were chiefly International Relations students. The fact that most of them actually studied what is closely linked to the topics covered at MUNs is what gives them an advantage over other delegates.
So, I decided to dedicate a few hours of my spare time to write a good position paper. Eventually those few hours turned into a whole night working on a position paper.
During the simulation it was clear who belonged to the “newbies” and who belonged to a more experienced crowd. Also, the few native English speakers enjoyed advantage over others, which was very common in every MUN I participated and organized later on.
Of course my first MUN experience was very confusing. I tried to keep my cool as I was the delegate of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Also the rules of procedure were rather confusing at first, and having to speak “Diplomatic English” is something that unfortunately is for most of us a gift that has to be learned.
My sleepless night turned out to become my biggest victory during the conference. If we leave aside the prize for “the best dressed delegate”, it is worth mentioning my position paper got the award. The combination of the whole great experience of meeting great people, learning in a more active way and gaining a bigger and a smaller victory made me a true MUN-addict.
All events have to end eventually and after an active and exciting weekend Tallinn Model United Nations 2011 (TMUN) had to come to an end. After this weekend I became great friends with the Secretary-General and the original creator of TMUN who organized the whole simulation game. It was the first time a Model United Nations was organized in Estonia. Unfortunately my good friend and the founder of TMUN moved to Germany to continue with her studies, meaning that the likelihood that Tallinn Model United Nations 2012 would fall out.
You could probably guess what happened next. I was so afraid that Tallinn Model United Nations would fall out for the coming years that I went to my friend and asked her if I could continue to work on her creation. She was very glad to hear that her former delegates got interested in the conference organization and was able to start forming a group for TMUN ’12 before leaving Estonia. From this original team of five, the four of us are still dedicated to our organization.
When the team was formed and the real organizing could get started, the biggest challenge ahead of us was finances. Particularly in Estonia where people only knew for Model NATO as simulation game. Other simulation games like a Model UN or a Model European Council were never heard of. The first challenge was to raise awareness about an MUN, its importance, and how it differs from a Model NATO.
Also, a vital part for every Model UN is to find partners and funding. As one can imagine, the latter included many telephone calls, meetings with potential business partners (with no positive outcome), and a lot of emails begging for partnerships and funds, and participating in various competitions in the hope of winning money. The amount of time and effort invested in this was tremendous. Without determination it would had never worked out.
Starting a new MUN has not been a fairytale, as it has involved a lot of sweat and determination. Without an awesome team that just miraculously somehow managed to work out from the start, and for the great support from the founder of TMUN and other experienced MUNers, we have been able to continue with Tallinn Model United Nations.
TMUN was first organized in 2011 in a University classroom. It took only a year from this to establish a real organization of TMUN with great partners. As a non-profit organization, our conference has managed to grow gradually, year by year, and will hopefully continue to do so in the future.
The truth is that starting a new MUN is never easy. The workload never ends, and every year there are new challenges. From my own experience I can say that starting an MUN is a big responsibility, but it is also a rewarding experience I will never forget.