This article is published as part of MUN Spotlight, a special series dedicated to Model UNs from around the globe. The aim of this series is to introduce MUNs and their organizers to our MUNPlanet audience and beyond. Today we're taking you to beautiful Uppsala, Sweden, Dag Hammarskjöld’s native city and home to UMUN 2016!
MUNPlanet: Please introduce yourself to our community.
My name is Anna and I’m the General Director of Uppsala Model United Nations 2016, the MUN that takes place in Uppsala, Sweden.I’m a second-year undergraduate studying political science, (since I’ve always had an interests in international politics and relations). This interest got me into the MUN world in 2012 and now, here I am.It’s been hard to get away from, since it’s such an amazing opportunity and tool to educate the young people of the world. I want to inspire students and make them understand how much you can learn, not only about international politics, just by attending a MUN. In my spare time I usually go for a run -always more than ten kilometers (if I do something, I want to do it properly).I do however also hang out with friends and work at a student association, or “nation” as we call it here.Uppsala has quite a unique student life, you should try it!
MUNPlanet: In one sentence, tell everyone why they should not miss this year’s edition.
to experience Dag Hammarskjöld’s native city while debating the
ever so urgent topic that is the climate and adjoining topics, while meeting
MUNPlanet: You mentioned that your team is working to provide us the best UMUN so
far. What should we expect from this year’s conference? Are there any new things that you will be introducing for
the first time?
For the first time, we will introduce new Rules of Procedure, that correspond better to the real UN work – maybe a bit challenging at first, but quite the experience once you get a hang of it. Additionally, the Secretariat is new in many ways; there is more MUN-experience cumulated there than ever in UMUN’s history. They know what they’re doing, and they’re doing it great.
MUNPlanet: As we have heard, the venue of UMUN is going to be fantastic. UMUN simulation will take place at the oldest university in Sweden. Tell us something about it?
Uppsala University was founded in 1477, so having a MUN here might seem given.The university has had students such as Dag Hammarskjöld and Hans Rosling (founder of Gapminder), and several other Swedish well-known persons.The venue for UMUN will be the University Main Building, which is one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever visited, built in 1887 and situated close to the cathedral that is not to be put to shame either.
MUNPlanet: We are living in the golden age of MUNs. There have never been more conferences emerging in almost every country in the world, including Sweden. Can you tell us more about MUN culture in Sweden?
The MUN culture has been different from what might been seen as the rest of world, we have always travelled abroad to go to different MUNs. A few years ago MUNs started popping up in the big cities, Stockholm (SMUN) growing fastest.I think we were a bit late partly because of our wish to travel, learn and see what is was all about, but also partly because no one felt that they had, or knew a lot of people that had, enough experience. In other words: Sweden is in many ways new to hosting their own MUNs, but hope to challenge the already established ones very soon!
MUNPlanet: Being the native city of none other than Dag Hammarskjöld, Uppsala is a legendary place for MUNers. What is Dag Hammarskjöld’s biggest legacy in your opinion and how will he be commemorated?
I believe Mr. Hammarskjöld biggest legacy is to never be afraid to achieve greatness, and even though he came from a rather well- off family, he inspires many since he came from the small town that Uppsala is, and made it all the way to New York and the United Nations, which should be seen as even more impressive during his life than now. Since this year marks our 55th year without Mr Hammarskjöld, there has already been a lot of events to highlight his life and doings, not only the big Dag Hammarskjöld lecture in October with José Ramos-Horta.
MUNPlanet: How important is the international character for a success of UMUN and international conferences in general?
It is very important. Gathering students from all over the world, means gathering just as many perspectives, this is how you come up with innovative ideas and solution,and it very much epitomizes the soul of the real United NationsFor UMUN, this is important since we want our conference to be as reality-based as possible, but also being able to put UMUN on the (MUN) map as as a conference that might be small, but has high academic quality.
MUNPlanet: When it comes to projects like this, the organization is the key for their success. Tell us more about the team behind this conference.
The team behind the conference is a mix of international students and students from Sweden, making diversity our strength. We have more MUN experience than ever, and thanks to this wonderful and hard working group of people we’re ready to achieve our common goal: a successful UMUN.
MUNPlanet: Beside the daily sessions, what other activities will the participants experience during their stay?
First of all, the diplomat dinner will be a so-called gasque, a long-lived student tradition in Uppsala and if you’ve never experienced a gasque, you’re up for a treat. There will be songs, dances and performances to say the least.Further on, since this is the native city of Dag Hammarskjöld, there will be avisit to the House of Peace. This is all apart from breathing the same air as Mr. Hammarskjöld, at the same time as experiencing what exchange students usually call “student’s paradise”. You will have the chance to make new friends and mingle, in historical environments.
MUNPlanet: If you had one piece of advice to give to all your delegates, what would this advice be for skilled MUNer, and which one would you give to a student has never been to a MUN?
For the one that has never been to a MUN, I would say that sometime has to be the first one, give it a go! Remember that you don’t have to be the most active delegate during your first conference, you will learn so much anyway. If you, at the end of conference, feel that this wasn’t your thing, you’ll still have gotten friends for life! To the skilled one, I would say: do you dare taking on Rules of Procedure that you might not be used to? Do you dare to, yet again, go days without sleep in order to save to world?
MUNPlanet: I believe we can agree on the notion that MUNs are changing. How do you see new technologies, especially communities such as MUNPlanet, changing Model United Nations landscape in the coming years?
I believe, and hope, that new technologies will help MUNers all over the world attend more conferences and therefore grow into the international leader they are formed to be. Maybe, in a distant future, it will be possible to have a cyber MUN – keeping the climate in mind.
Gathering all MUNs, where MUNPlanet plays a big role, helps delegates from all over the world find a conference that suits them, both topic and maybe financially wise. This makes it possible for even more people to experience and learn from MUNs.
MUNPlanet: Beside being university center of Sweden, Uppsala is known as a city full of life and amazing experiences. Can you give us some advice on how to spend our free time during our stay?
If I were you, I would take a walk by the river, take a stroll around the castle (where Mr. Hammarskjöld grew up) and visit the the cathedral (it is magnificent!) and maybe Gustavianum (the oldest building in Uppsala as well as a museum with a anatomic theater at the top floor). You should not miss out on the student life either, but this is something included in our program, so don’t worry.
MUNPlanet: Can you break down the costs of the things in the city? MUNers are very often traveling on budget. Can you give us some tips on how to get the most out of the experience in Uppsala? Tell us about the cheapest ways to commute, eat, explore, etc.
A great thing about Uppsala is that it is one of the biggest and oldest university cities in Sweden which in other words mean we have nations. At the nations (there are 13), you eat much cheaper than at “regular” restaurant. For example, no lunch is over 5 euros. They often have all meals for a reasonable cost, making eating a smaller expense. Since Uppsala is quite a small town, you don’t need to buy tickets for any buses or train – you can easily walk anywhere! Most of the students in Uppsala has bikes, which makes nothing further away than ten minutes. Additionally, since everyone at UMUN will be students, you have free entrance to all museums and such.
MUNPlanet: We’ve heard so much about delicious Swedish traditional food. What kind of meal should we not miss while in Uppsala?
If you’re adventurous, you could try pickled herring. This is something we usually eat for Christmas or in the summer, and it has quite a special taste. If you want to be more safe; have some crisp bread, you can have it with only butter on, or make it into a whole meal.
Then of course, we have the “fika”, a Swedish tradition where you eat a piece of cake and drink coffee, lemonade or whatever fits you. This can occur whenever during the day, and with anyone. The best part about the Swedish food, and a tip if you don’t want to make any mistakes while you’re here, is that you can try (almost) everything at IKEA!
MUNPlanet: Where do you see UMUN in five years?
In five years, we’re hopefully more established than now, having delegates from all over the world returning every year. Since the political awareness is growing by the minute, I hope to see more and more delegates participate and learn, while having a secretariat that keeps on challenging and developing UMUN – taking new technologies into consideration.
MUNPlanet: There must be something you would like to add in the end. What would be your message to the MUNers interested in UMUN?
I think UMUN is a 3-in-1-experience; first of all we have the the stimulating and interesting conference, and then the fact that is takes place in Uppsala which is first and foremost Dag Hammarskjölds hometown, but it’s also a student town like no other – everything is made for students! It is hard to give you the proper atmosphere, but you will understand when you get here, so come on! What are you waiting for?
MUNPlanet: Thank you for devoting your time to MUN Spotlight and telling us more about you and your MUN. MUNPlanet is looking forward to your conference and strongly advises all MUNers to check it out. Good luck on your conference!
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