We’re excited to bring you the next installment in our MUN Institute Alumni Spotlight series! Meet Daniel Gordon – he’s a student at John Jay High School in New York City, and he attended the MUN Institute in 2013 and 2014. After working through three MUN Institute programs, including the Ambassador, Crisis, and Secretary-General programs, Daniel embarked on a mission to start his own conference at his high school. With hard work and determination, he made that mission a reality – check out JJMUNC’s website! Keep reading to learn more about Daniel’s experiences.
When did you start participating in MUN?
I began participating in MUN three years ago at the beginning of my freshman year.
What did the beginning of your MUN journey look like? How are you different now from the person you were back then?
At the start, I mainly was a delegate in large General Assembly committees such as DISEC and SPECPOL. I didn’t speak very much, which is unusual because I am not typically a quiet person. I did my best however at each conference to make sure that I collaborated with the other delegates and had a strong influence within the writing process. As I attended more conferences and completed three MUN Institute programs, my knowledge of both Model UN and UN policy grew. Throughout my MUN experience, I never changed my ideals on how to succeed. I especially pride myself on how I maintain an honest, direct approach in my MUN interactions.
How did attending the MUN Institute affect your MUN career and your planning of JJMUNC?
I am certain that attending the MUN Institute has significantly enhanced my MUN career. I learned extremely useful strategies at the MUN Institute that improved my public speaking, critical thinking, decision making, and leadership skills. The authentic simulations and constructive feedback offered by the outstanding MUN Institute instructors were essential for strengthening my rhetoric and informal caucusing. In planning JJMUNC, I relied on the conference organizing techniques demonstrated at the MUN Institute, specifically in the Secretary General program. As a delegate and Crisis Director I have also benefitted from the Crisis Program. I sincerely believe that the techniques I learned at the MUN Institute have practical application in many areas beyond the MUN experience.
What made you decide to start your own conference?
At the end of my freshman year, the previous president of our club and I decided to start our own local day conference, known as JJMUNC. By hosting a conference, we hoped it would better train our own delegates as well as expand our local conference circuit. It also gave us the chance to experience firsthand the excitement of selecting topics, chairing committees, and leading a group of delegates.
What was the easiest part about planning the first JJMUNC? What was the hardest part?
The easiest part of planning JJMUNC I was the initial excitement. All members of our club were on board in attempting the gigantic feat of gathering over 180 individuals from over a dozen schools from the tri-state area for a local conference. We learned that the preparation of the background guides, an arduous task, had to be completed as early as possible to maintain momentum.
What’s your favorite part about conference planning?
My favorite part about the conference planning is my excitement when the preparations are all in place the night before the conference and only the final details remain. Experiencing the outcome of all the planning and hard team work is incredibly rewarding.
How do you best work with a team of students to plan such a big event?
Communication and organization. The planning group for the conference was about 20 club members last year, while this year it has increased to about 30. Since our conference is in November, a large portion of our planning has to occur over the summer. In addition, I keep both the website and our JJMUNC Staff Facebook group updated with any pertinent information, including deadlines for completing background guides, and send repeated reminders to all involved.
What does JJMUNC look like now (how many students, committees, etc.)?
JJMUNC right now has more than 200 student delegates participating in seven different committees. At JJMUNC we strive to have a dynamic variety of General Assembly, Specialized, and Crisis committees. We try to not focus our committees on the same topics year after year. Out of our seven committees this year, we have two GA (World Health Organization and International Court of Justice), three specialized (Ministry of Magic, National Basketball Players Association, and Republican National Committee), and two crisis (Triple Ad-Hoc Committee of the Secretary General and the American Revolution).
Do you have any advice for other students looking to start their own conferences?
Do it! Running a conference is a wonderful experience. It bolsters your local Model UN circuit, increases your member base within your school, and introduces you to a wide range of other MUN delegates whom you may see at other conferences. Any conference that you attend would likely help you in hosting an even better conference of your own. Useful resources to also consider include contacting members of the Secretariat from other local conferences for input, and following up with the various Model UN forums.
Interested in becoming a MUN leader like Daniel? Check out the Model United Nations Institute this summer!