Delegates who are just starting their Model UN careers can find themselves wondering if it will really help them in the future, or if it’s just another activity. While it’s true that most high school MUNers won’t find themselves forming resolution blocs in their future careers, there are still tons of practical benefits that Model UN can bring. Joining MUN as a freshman could easily pay off a few years down the road, when it’s time to apply for college.
Writing skills, extracurricular activities, and face-to-face interviews are critical when it comes to college admissions, and applicants can find themselves struggling to piece those skills together and present themselves as well-rounded students. Luckily, Model UN can help high school students develop their writing and speaking abilities, giving those delegates an advantage when they apply.
We asked two MUN Institute alumni about their college application experiences, and how Model UN helped them out along the way:
Daniel Gordon is an alumnus of three summer programs at the MUN Institute and a high school senior. He has served as Secretary-General for the second and third annual John Jay High School Model UN Conference in New York, which he co-founded at the end of his freshman year.
John Salchak is a high school senior from Texas who has attended the Ambassador and Secretary-General programs at the MUN Institute since beginning his MUN career as a freshman. For the last two years, he has been his club’s president, and is currently a Media Associate for Training Content on Best Delegate’s media team.
In general, what skills have you learned from MUN that helped you apply for college?
“Several modules from the Model United Nations Institute were particularly helpful with college applications,” Daniel responded. “Understanding social dynamics and crisis strategy helps to prepare for interviews and college essays. In addition, the resolution writing modules help to create a concise and organized format for answering any questions on the applications.”
John replied that MUN-specific skills played a much smaller role in his experience. “However, if I had required interviews, the skills learned in MUN would have helped me a lot,” he told us. In addition, MUN played a role in determining what John wanted to study. “It made me realize what I wanted to go to school for! I always played around with different career ideas such as economics, but once I started MUN and learning about international relations, I knew I found what I wanted to do.”
How were MUN opportunities a factor in deciding which schools you applied to?
Best Delegate’s latest rankings place the University of Chicago, Georgetown, and Harvard at the top of the North American MUN circuit. These highly ranked schools are known for competitive teams that have gaveled at some of the world’s most prestigious conferences. With opportunities like that, it’s not surprising that these universities often attract high school delegates looking to continue with Model UN.
Both of the alumni cited existing Model UN programs as criteria for choosing which schools to consider. “I didn’t only apply to schools with MUN programs, but a majority of them do,” John said. “Being able to continue my MUN career is a priority of mine, so my top choice schools all have successful teams and/or host conferences. Throughout high school I have been responsible for my club, so it would be nice to go somewhere with an established program so I don’t have to build one from scratch.” Daniel mentioned that MUN tied in closely with academics, noting that “MUN opportunities generally reflect superb International Relations or Political Science departments.”
Did you mention MUN awards or leadership positions as part of your extracurricular experience?
Good grades and impressive test scores are certainly helpful on college applications, but colleges also want to see students take initiative beyond the classroom through extracurricular activities. Whether they’re sports, clubs, or community service, it’s always good idea to stay involved with extracurriculars. The same goes for Model UN. On top of the practical skills of writing and speaking, MUN also allows students to achieve awards and leadership positions that can help their applications stand out, because sometimes it doesn’t hurt to brag.
Daniel said that he mentioned his experience leading JJMUNC II and III in the past two years, a conference which he helped build from the ground up. John went even further with his own application. “I filled this out, mentioned MUN, the awards I’ve won, my experience with the MUN Institute and the Best Delegate Media Team, as well as my own club’s leadership positions,” he said.
Model UN is a fun, engaging, and educational activity that can provide vital skills to students. Get started this summer with the Diplomat Program from the Model United Nations Institute!
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Preparing for our first Model UN conference, we all have no clue what’s going on. We hear terms such as “decorum,” “NGOs,” and many more Model UN terms that none of us knew existed. Then come the country assignments – you get assigned a country you have never heard of, and you’re stuck talking about a complex topic that your country has barely stated anything on the topic. Even though we have a tough time at our first Model UN conference, we leave feeling a burning passion for more debate.
Casey Wang entered her first Model UN conference at GTMUN (Georgia Tech Model United Nations) as the delegate from El Salvador. The committee was the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission. Her topic was Border Disputes between India and Pakistan. Casey says, “Being there was just so incredible like learning about the different issues that you probably wouldn’t study on your own”.
Casey attended the Model United Nations Institute in Georgetown University back in 2015. While she was exploring Georgetown University, it soon came to her that she had a passion for international affairs, and she even says that going to Georgetown for the Model United Nations Institute was one of the main inspirations that made her want to major in International Relations.
In addition, going to the camp made Casey a better public speaker, and it helped her understand the basics of Model UN. Casey says just the week she was there, she was able to learn so much, and she gained a lot of confidence while public speaking. Just going there really improved her as a delegate. Casey was inspired by the phrase, “The best delegate brings out the best in others”. Not only was she able to make herself a better delegate, but Casey has also made many friends from the Model United Nations Institute.
Most recently, Casey has chaired at a college level MUN conference hosted by Georgetown University. She says that the difference between the high school and college MUN circuits is that in the high school circuit, you mostly focus on General Assemblies, while in the college circuit push crisis committees. Most college conferences have crisis committees rather than large GAs. She says that chairing a college level MUN conference actually helped her feel less intimidated by collegiate level MUN.
Last year, Casey traveled to Budapest, Hungary to compete at the Yale Model Government Europe. This was the first time Casey had ever traveled to Europe. She says being in Budapest was amazing because she experienced a different culture, and she even got to learn a lot of European history while she was in Budapest. Casey also enjoyed competing against the European delegates. Casey also has competed at HACIA democracy held in Costa Rica. It was also Casey’s first time going to Latin America. Seeing different parts of the world was very exciting for Casey, and it has helped her learn about the different cultures throughout the planet.
After attending the Model United Nations Institute, Casey says that she stills keeps in touch with her delegation (aka the Cookie MUNsters). One of Casey’s memories from her friends from MUNI was when two international students loved Cheerios, and they didn’t have Cheerios in the respective countries. Once they returned home, Casey sent them both boxes of Cheerios! Casey says that she has learned a lot from the other members of her group.
Finally, Casey says that a word of advice she has for MUNI is to make sure you make a lot of friends at Best Delegate because the friends she made at the camp are still her friends today, “…and it’s really cool because I have friends in Russia and in Switzerland…it’s really neat that BD brings in people together from different backgrounds who are into MUN.”
Interested in learning more about the benefits of attending the MUN Institute? Check out our Middle School and High School programs.
Questions? Concerns? Just want to chat? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (646) 308-1411!
On the twelfth day of the conference, my advisor gave to me…
Twelve speakers speaking…
Eleven students writing…
Ten chairs a-gaveling…
Nine pages running…
Eight votes abstaining…
Seven binders falling…
Six motions passing…
Fiiiive Coffeeeee Cuuuuuups!
Four working papers…
Two crisis arcs…
And a trip to MUNI 2017!
Happy Holidays from Best Delegate!
Sign up for the 2017 Model United Nations Institute here.
Find lots of gift ideas for the delegate in your life here.
Written by Jonah Miller, Kristen Corlay, and Alexandros Economou for Best Delegate
When I signed up for Best Delegate’s Model United Nations Institute in 2015, I hadn’t the faintest idea what to expect. At the time, Model UN was foreign to me, a nerdy eighth grader with an odd interest in international affairs. The public middle school of my Philadelphia suburb had no Model UN team to join, so I figured that a summer program was the next best thing.
Arriving at Georgetown University on a hot afternoon, I was excited to learn about the world of MUN. I knew nothing of parliamentary procedure, resolutions, or position papers at the time, but I knew the capital of Bolivia, and to me, that was enough. The week I spent in the Junior Diplomat program turned out to be a whirlwind, making new friends, submitting position papers at 9:57pm, and experiencing residential life with a caffeine-infused roommate. Needless to say, it was over much too soon.
That fall, I encountered a problem. The first day of school had arrived and many teachers wanted to get to know their new students. They all asked with a slightly different phrasing each time: “What did you do this summer?”
In my town, almost nobody had ever heard of Model UN. In fact, a majority did not know much about the real United Nations. Summers were most often spent in some combination of beach houses and theme parks, not in Georgetown dorm rooms or lecture halls full of placards. My peers could not understand why anyone would choose to spend his summer writing essays and discussing how to prevent radicalization among middle-eastern youth. When I tried to explain any of it, I was met by the same response from friends and teachers alike.
“Model UN? What’s that?”
Each attempt to elaborate only confused them further. After all, a middle school student like me had no business representing Pakistan in a discussion about food security, right? Why would I be in committee when I could have been relaxing at the beach? Despite their disbelief, I held my ground, shooting down any misconceptions that violated my territorial sovereignty.
“No, we don’t work at the UN headquarters.”
“No, I was not allowed to nuke anyone.”
“No, I did not ‘solve’ ISIS.”
Slowly, my friends came to understand my passion for Model UN. They knew that I was following the search for a new Secretary-General more closely than the 2016 Presidential Race. They understood that I suddenly cared much more about what “Western Business Attire” I would wear. They also began to assume that any group messages I received came from MUN Institute alumni in another country or hemisphere. Finally, I was finished with my crusade, and my friends would be confused by MUN no more. Almost.
In the summer of 2016, when I attended the MUN Institute’s Crisis program at Harvard, and it became harder to explain how Model UN works. By the nature of crisis committees, my stories got increasingly complex and intricate. Soon, I had to explain that I had not actually ordered a drone strike on Russian forces in Ukraine and that I had not actually saved four of my fellow cabinet members from anti-government forces in Ankara. The idea of a simulated crisis (i.e. not real, fake, or any number of other synonyms I had to come up with) seemed utterly lost on my peers.
“Why would anybody want to do that?” they would ask, wide-eyed at the idea of simulated air strikes and hypothetical assassinations.
“Because it’s fun,” was the most genuine answer I could offer them. “And it’s not hypothetical if you use a Nerf gun.”
My stories went on and I assumed any number of roles. Over the summer, I had become a bold leader, a cunning general, and either a war hero or war criminal, depending on which treaty you read. Maybe my friends would never quite understand the complex and nuanced world of Model United Nations. But through all of the confusion, skepticism, and laughter, there was always one reaction that stood out from the rest.
“Hey, that sounds pretty fun. Maybe I’ll try it.”
Here’s the pep talk we wish we would’ve had at our first conference…
Nothing beats the nervousness and exhilaration of a delegate’s first MUN conference. Eyes wide, heart racing, asking a million questions… trust me, we have all felt it before. No matter how many times the experienced delegates from the your MUN team say “don’t be nervous, you’ll be fine,” we were still internally freaking out. There is a lot of advice we wish we were given before being thrown into the mass of teenagers in Western Business Attire, quickly typing away their resolution papers. This is why we decided to provide new delegates with the pep talk we all wish we would’ve had at our first conference. Enjoy!
Dear new delegates,
It doesn’t matter how you got here, the point is that you *are* here. You are sitting in a room full of people dressed in professional clothing, talking using strange words (caucus?), and doing over-the-top hand movements. Trust me when I tell you this: you’ll get used to it. You may be second-guessing yourself and worried about whether or not your position paper fits into the guidelines. You may be flinching at the thought of speaking in front of a hundred people.
That’s okay, we all get nervous. Just breathe.
Let me tell you a secret:
You know that delegate with the big voice you can’t help but admire with awe? He froze during his opening speech at his first conference. That girl who is always quick to find new solutions and you keep asking yourself how she comes up with those plans? She didn’t even raise her placard at all during her first year. All those delegates you see delivering a speech worthy of a standing ovation? Public speaking used to be their greatest fear. We were all awkward and we all stuttered every now and then. We may have had an embarrassing story and thought every once in a while “what is happening?”.
I could offer you the most standard MUN advice ever: raise your placard, speak clearly, and follow parliamentary procedure. However, as someone who went completely blank the second the chair banged their gavel and opened the session, I know you will most probably forget all of that. The best advice I could ever give you is this: learn as much as you can and have fun doing it. Don’t just sit there in the committee hoping the chair won’t catch you off-guard. Try to gather as much information as you can! It’s important to pay attention to the way delegates make their speeches, build their blocs, and write their resolutions. Most importantly: have fun! Since you have the opportunity to be at a conference, make the best of it.
Model UN is not about what you are, but about what you can be. You can be a world leader, you can change the world, and you can definitely rock your first conference.
PS: we’re rooting for you!
John Jay Model United Nations Conference (JJMUNC) is not your ordinary high school Model UN conference. Only in it’s third year, 300 delegates from 16 schools in the tri-state area gathered to attend JJMUNC III. The one-day conference was held at John Jay High School in Westchester, NY and was led by the members of their Model UN club. JJMUNC is friendly to delegates of all-levels: novice to advanced.
Delegates had the opportunity to participate in General Assembly, Crisis, and Specialized committees. In the World Health Organization, delegates drafted humanitarian response plans to the greatest epidemics of 21st century. The American Revolution concluded with excitement: a duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton and an agreement to end the war. The Triple Ad-Hoc committee is one of JJMUNC’s finest additions this year. This innovative committee incorporated the classic historical and futuristic elements of an Ad-Hoc committee but also included modern-day topics. Delegates represented different states and dealt with crises in a fractioned “United States”. In the Republican National Convention of 2020, delegates discussed immigration, terrorism, and the economy after Hillary Clinton’s presidency. Candidates for the 2020 election included many of the candidates from 2016 such as Donald Trump, John Kasich, and Jeb Bush.
The secretariat and staff of the conference included many MUN Institute alumni, including the Secretary-General of JJMUNC III, Daniel Gordon. Daniel attended the MUN Institute in 2013 and 2014 and incorporated what he learned into JJMUNC III. The rest of the MUN Institute alumni of John Jay High School all served as chairs, vice chairs, or members of the Secretariat in planning this grand-scale local conference. Christina Wang, alumni of 2016, also won Outstanding Delegate in her WHO committee. Congratulations to all MUN Institute alumni!
Thank you to the incredible Secretariat and staff of JJMUNC III for a successful conference! We cannot wait to see the delegations back next year.
Alexandros and the Secretary-General program in 2016
For those of you wondering whether or not the MUN Institute is for you, yes it is! When I was looking through registration and the list of programs, I was completely intimidated. Since I knew I wanted to be a better delegate, I finally got the courage and I told my parents that I wanted to go. When I was registering, little did I know that I was applying for something that completely changed my life. Yes, it may sound a bit cliché but it’s a fact that I came back for every program Best Delegate offers in the high school level.
First, the MUN Institute taught me about confidence. When I first started in the Ambassador program, I could not give a speech without using a ‘filler’ word or two in each sentence. Looking back, I know that I did not have a lot of self-confidence at that time. With the support of my Diplomacy Fellow and my group, I became a confident speaker by applying their feedback. Eventually, the MUN Institute helped me find my ‘inner delegate’. The MUN Institute also taught me a very important skill: diplomacy. This has helped me negotiate better at conferences and lead groups with a large sum of delegates. These diplomacy skills have led me to winning awards at conferences.
Alexandros at the final simulation from the MUN Institute in 2015
Before attending the program, I did not expect that the MUN Institute would greatly improved my writing skills. Initially, I thought I was a pretty decent writer. After the Ambassador program, I had a better understanding of how to construct my position papers for conferences. I was able to use the research and writing skills I learned from the MUN Institute to write a position paper for National High School Model UN (NHSMUN) where I was a delegate for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Writing is essential in Model UN to prepare for conferences and to draft resolutions.
Last but definitely not least, I am very grateful for the long-lasting friendships that the MUN Institute has given me. I had the opportunity to meet fellow MUNners from all around the world in just one week! To this day, I continue to talk to alumni every week. We talk about all-things conference related such as what conferences their team is planning on attending but we also enjoy chatting about how our day is going. One of my favorite aspects of the MUN Institute alumni community is that there is always someone who can help in preparing for upcoming MUN conferences. I have definitely benefited from this many times since I have connected with alumni before conferences to ask for advice.
The MUN Institute has helped me and many other delegates around the world. The skills that students take away from the programs transcend beyond MUN. The MUN Institute helps individuals with research, negotiation, public speaking, conflict resolution, and more. Many alumni write about how they acquired these skill through MUN in their college applications and get accepted to prestigious colleges such as Harvard, Yale, and Oxford. If you want to learn important life skills and improve yourself as a delegate, come to the Model United Nations Institute and enjoy this life-changing experience!
Hello, fellow delegates!
My name is Lala Kumakura and I feel humbled and honored for this opportunity to serve as Editor of Model United Nations Institute Alumni. I am ecstatic to be working with this incredible team!
To introduce myself, I am a sophomore at Fordham University, majoring in International Studies and double minoring in International Humanitarian Affairs and Spanish. I began Model UN when I started middle school in Japan and my passion for it has only developed since. Throughout high school and college thus far, I have been involved in founding and leading MUN programs. I attended the MUN Institute in 2013 and returned as a Diplomacy Fellow in 2016, teaching the Secretary-General program, Diplomat program, and the Junior Diplomat program at Georgetown University, Columbia University, and Harvard University. Currently in my seventh year of Model UN, I am the president of Fordham Model UN and Director General of Fordham’s upcoming high school conference. Also, I am a NGO Youth Representative to the United Nations, participating in high-level briefings and events.
Upon completion of the MUN Institute, delegates become a part of a supportive, welcoming alumni community! Throughout the year, the MUN Institute Alumni team will be providing opportunities for alumni to stay involved with the MUN Institute and Best Delegate through media content, in-conference meetups, and more. We are also very excited to work with the newly introduced platform, the MUN Vault, to provide resources for alumni to help us spread MUN worldwide. Most importantly, the MUN Institute Alumni team is working to continue building a passionate MUN community because this is what makes the MUN Institute like no other.
We value our alumni’s participation so please stay in contact with us! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at email@example.com
Now, please allow me to introduce the amazing and talented team!
Kristen Corlay – Media Associate
Kristen is a freshman at San Roberto International School in Monterrey, México. This will be her second year as a part of the MUN Institute Alumni team. Kristen has attended the MUN Institute for the past two summers and claims that it has truly been a life-changing experience. As she is currently the Director-General for Instituto San Roberto Model United Nations (ISRMUN), MUN has been a major part of her daily life. When she isn’t busy MUNing, she enjoys dancing, playing the piano, and listening to music, especially to the Hamilton soundtrack. Kristen is looking forward to creating great content and producing the MUN Institute video this year!
Alexandros Economou – Media Associate
Alexandros is a junior at Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, IL. He has previously attended the Ambassador, Crisis, and Secretary General programs at the MUN Institute. Alexandros is on the executive board of his school’s club as the Publicity Chair and also serves as an Assistant Crisis Director at his school’s conference, GBSMUN. In addition, he is chairing the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) committee in the largest middle school conference in the Midwest called NIMUN. Outside of MUN, Alexandros is a member of the Glenbrook Symphony Orchestra, a board member of his school’s chapter of Amnesty International, and a member in the Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society in Chicago where he participates in Greek dance.
Jonah Miller – Media Associate
Jonah is a high school freshman from New Jersey and a new member of Best Delegate’s media team. His first MUN experience was at Georgetown University, where he attended the MUN Institute in 2015. Inspired by the people he met and experience he had, Jonah returned to the MUN Institute in 2016 for the Crisis program at Harvard. He has attended conferences in South Jersey and Philadelphia as a part of his school’s MUN team and as an independent delegate. In his two years of MUN experience, Jonah gained a variety of new skills, ranging from public speaking to listing every ongoing UN peacekeeping operation. His hobbies include rowing, reading, and secretly plotting to conquer the world.
Miles Nabritt – Media Associate
Miles is thrilled to return to Best Delegate for his second year as a part of the MUN Institute Alumni team. He is currently leading his MUN club at the Brooklyn Friends School. Miles is considered as a MUN Institute expert, attending the Diplomat, Ambassador, Crisis, and Secretary General programs in the past three years. Miles cherishes the strong bond he has had with MUNI Alumni over the years. Since many MUN Institute Alumni apply what they learned and develop into inspirational leaders in their communities, he believes that this makes the MUN Institute very special. Miles is looking forward to creating and maintaining a connection throughout the MUN Institute community through meet-ups at conferences, media outreach, and more!
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!