The 12th-15th of November 2015, alumni of the MUN Institute competing at the Secondary Schools’ United Nations Symposium came together to reconnect, meet each other for the first time, laugh, and reminisce, all while breaking the 4th wall to catch their breath from the draining yet exhilarating experience a MUN conference provides.
While at SSUNS this weekend, I was able to reconnect with 3 students from the summer, Annie Hsu (Georgetown), Richard Zhao (Columbia), and Katherine Jelich (Georgetown), who all preformed wonderfully in their committees, World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (General Assembly), The Troubles: British Cabinet (Crisis), and Gazprom Board of Directors (Specialized Agency) respectively. While catching up, and reliving stories from the summer, I managed to take just enough time in between all their inside jokes to hear a little bit about their experiences at both MUNI and SSUNS, and how they fit together. And, of course, take an awesome photo.
How was your time at the MUN institute?
Annie: My time at MUNI was amazing and inspiring! I had the opportunity to meet a variety of people from different corners of the world who share the same passion as me: Model UN. The Diplomacy Fellows are so knowledgeable and passionate about sharing their expertise which is truly inspiring to see! My favorite part of MUNI is how I made so many friends who I still keep in touch with and the support that we provide each other moving forward.
Richard: My time at the MUN institute was unbelievable, the diplomacy fellows went above their duty to teach us integral MUN skills, which can easily be translated to skills in everyday life. Additionally, speaking with other MUN enthused delegates from around the world, was not only insightful, but heartwarming in a very impactful way.
Katherine: I would have to say that my time at the MUN Institute was a key period in my growth as an individual. It not only gave me very beneficial MUN skills, but gave me confidence, and skills which are transferable in everyday life. My experience at MUNI has made my self-esteem skyrocket, which is something that is invaluable to me. I have attended MUNI for the last three summers, and each time I leave with an expanded knowledge of world issues and social awareness, as well as skills which have helped me endlessly. In the past, I have suffered with social anxiety. My time at MUNI truly helped me alleviate this issue which I have struggled with my entire life. Through aid from the diplomacy fellows and the support of everyone who I have met through MUNI, I have gained skills and self-worth, and have rid myself of fears and anxieties which have hindered me in the past, allowing me to achieve things I never could before.
How did the MUN Institute prepare you for this weekend?
Annie: My experience at MUNI helped me to reflect on areas that I need to improve on and become more confident in understanding what kind of delegate I am and who I am as a person. I was able to more clearly identify my strengths and weaknesses and seek ways to improve.
Richard: The valuable skills taught to me at MUNI, allowed me to be a key player throughout the weekend, the skill level of each delegate in the committee was very high, but after 4 days of heated debate and teeth clenching timed crisis, I’m glad to say that I had one of my best performances at a conference thus far, and a huge chunk of my success must be credited to MUNI.
Katherine: MUN Institute did not only teach me the valuable and transferable skills of Model UN, but also made me develop my social skills. The most important thing which MUNI prepared me for was to capitalize on all of the connections I made at the conference. Through MUNI, my abilities to network have improved so significantly. During my weekend at SSUNS, I gained so many connections and learned so much from others; it was a very enriching experience. In the past, a weekend such as this one would have been a nightmare for me, nothing but stress and anxiety. So, I think the most important thing my experience at MUNI did for me regarding this weekend was that it gave me the ability to use it to its fullest potential, rather than to miserably wait for the event to end. It helped me see it as an opportunity, and an activity I enjoy rather than a stress.
What is your favourite part of large Model UN conferences like SSUNS?
Annie: My favorite part of large MUN conferences like SSUNS is the vibe of intellectual exchanges and professionalism. I really loved how I had the opportunity to meet so many people who share the same passion as I do and who are so willing to enrich each others’ perspectives by bringing their perspectives to the discussions.
Richard: It’s definitely the prestige that comes with it, SSUNS is crowned as the biggest high school conference in Canada, and to see all these students around the world, debate historical and contemporary issues is absolutely inspiring. I had the privilege of meeting some extremely passionate delegates, some of whom I now have the distinct honour of calling my friends.
Katherine: My favourite part of large conferences, such as SSUNS, is definitely the people. There are so many opportunities to meet new and interesting people from all corners of the world, who have all met here for the same reason. It’s a huge growing opportunity for everyone, and the best way to do that is to learn from each other. With so many people there, it’s hard not to meet someone who will inspire you. Whether that motivation leads to take action on something your passionate about, or develop and grow yourself as an individual, it is different for everyone. However, everyone there leaves with at least a little bit of knowledge and inspiration from each other.
What is it like catching up with/meeting for the first time other MUNI students while at a conference?
Annie: I was super excited to catch up with other alumni of MUNI because we shared the same experiences of the incredible weeks in the summer. Even though I did not know one of the alumni because we didn’t go to the same program, we became friends as we met! I love meeting other MUNI alumni because it reminds me of being a part of the MUNI squad and more precisely, MUNI family.
Richard: Though they were at the Georgetown program while I was at Columbia, right away I knew that Annie, Katherine and I would get along just fine! Meeting MUNI alumni is always fun, and it’s always encouraging to know that regardless of what conference I go to, I will always have the support of two delegations behind my back (both school and MUNI), cheering me on.
Katherine: It’s always wonderful for me to meet other alumni from MUNI. Last weekend I met one alumnus who I had attended MUNI with, Annie, and another who had attended a different program, Richard. It was a great experience to both catch up with and meet new people. It’s always a great experience and a lot of fun meeting other alumni. It’s also wonderful to know that almost every conference I go to, MUNI will have my back.
Anything special you’d like to go in the MUNI blog??
Richard: Shoutout to the secretariat of SSUNS for an amazing conference, Stevan the youngest elected member to the IRSAM board (and best ACD in the league), and last but not least MariMUN!
And with that, I thank Annie, Richard, and Katherine for meeting up with me at SSUNS. It’s always a wonderful experience to see how much people have grown since the summer, and I know these three will continue to be tremendously successful. MUNI wishes you all the best!
Article by Steve Tempesta former MUNI Delegate, Diplomacy Fellow, and President of the Alumni Board