The following article was written by the Secretary General of GBSMUN III, Yoana Sidzhimova.
When I first think of one day Model UN conferences, the most significant memory that stands out to me is the terror I once felt in attending them; this is because of how good the local teams would be and the transition I have made to being this year’s GBSMUN III Secretary General. I say this because I think all veteran Model UN delegates have the same emotions towards one day conferences, a shift from fear that we would not be good enough in the beginning to a feeling of appreciation and gratitude because of the growth we have been able to see in ourselves.
This year, the Glenbrook South High School Model UN Conference was held on April 15th, 2017. Our conference was attended by 185 delegates and hosted nine committees: five general assemblies (The World Health Organization; The DIsarmament and International Security Committee; The International Atomic Agency; The Social Cultural and Humanitarian Committee; and The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights), two crisis committees (The Security Council and The Aztec Empire of 1519) and one joint crisis committee (The JCC Cuban Missile Crisis with the Soviet Politburo and Executive Committee of the National Security Council).
Glenbrook South prides itself on the intimate yet well prepared committees we host each year. Rather than creating a plethora of crisis committees that would be difficult to manage from the perspective of crisis staff, we create very specific and well orchestrated crisis committees due to the amount of committees we provide. We believe this creates a better learning environment for the delegates attending our conference, offering them a crisis experience that follows through for the entire conference.
Without a doubt, what makes GBSMUN so successful is both simple yet crucial: dedication. Dedication factors in two significant ways, through the time put into developing the conference and selecting a Secretariat that is equally invested. Traditionally, the GBS MUN team begins planning for our conference upon the first board meeting of the new board for the upcoming year in May- eleven months before the conference will actually occur. When preparation begins early, a heightened attention to all intricacies that form a conference is inevitable. When becoming Secretary General, what I valued most was the advice I acquired from previous secretary generals of Glenbrook South and other local high schools- so here are some of my most important pointers:
1.Quality over quantity.
From facilitating dias evaluations at our conference, I noticed a trend in favorable feedback regarding the amount of committees we offered and the effort put into them. I believe a delegates experience is more positive with committees that demonstrate the time put into them. Hosting many committees with crises that do not get as much attention will make delegates want more attention and angry with the strung out nature of the committee’s staffers.
2.Set due dates for secretariat members and keep with them!
For our conference, we created target dates for the following milestones in developing our conference: committee preferences for chairs, topic submission, first draft of background guides, second draft of background guides, and final draft of background guides with format review. Making check-in dates ensures all work that needs to be done is being completed and relieves unnecessary headaches that could arise closer to the conference!
3.Communication is key.
It sounds cliche but I think it’s incredibly important. For our conference, I made a goal of communicating with our entire secretariat once or twice a month through email in order to keep everyone aware of what is coming up and what needs to be completed. We also created group chats through iMessage and GroupMe between crisis, the dais staff, and myself to discuss how things are going both in preparation and on the day of.
4. Plan in advance.
While this might be a broad statement, I think it is most applicable in regards to planning successful crisis committees for a one-day conference. For GBSMUN, all crisis dais’ were required to prepare three potential crises for both topics, to be able to influence debate in a certain way, the preparation included: the form of the crisis (newspaper article, skype call, visit to committee, etc.), the props needed to complete the crisis, a brief description of the crisis, and a goal for the crisis to determine relevancy to the committee. On the day of, crisis staff is pulled in a thousand different directions- having a preset plan for at least the beginning of your conference allows crisis staffers more time to prepare and develop better crises for the duration of the entire day.
5. All hands on deck…
…especially two hours before the conference is finished. The last two hours of your one-day conference will be high strung, but it is possible to avoid forgetting an important aspect to ending your conference right. First, I suggest setting a time deadline for awards and locking a google document at the said time, to ensure that all chairs have submitted their awards before the deadline. Second, assign separate individuals to the following tasks: completing a google slide presentation with award templates with correct award winners, printing all awards, checking all awards are correct, counting points of schools to determine winners (if you award delegations), and communicating with dias staffers on how awards will be given out. The awards ceremony is the final impression you are able to give of your conference, make sure to do everything in your power to portray a final great impression!
You might have thought that one day conferences are not that difficult to organize because of the longer travel conferences you have attended, but if you are hosting a one day conference you need to forget this mindset. While it might seem as if one day conferences are easy to orchestrate, they will function fluidly with a mindset which believes they do not require much work. It is your job to put in the hard work and time to make your conference successful to make it look effortlessly executed to other teams on the day of. You’ve got this!