Dear New Delegates

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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!

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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?”.

Advice?

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.

Best,

Every MUNer

PS: we’re rooting for you!

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JJMUNC III Recap

Burr-Hamilton duel in The American Revolution

Burr-Hamilton duel in The American Revolution

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.

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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.

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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.

MUN Institute Alumni throughout the years!

MUN Institute Alumni throughout the years!

 

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How the MUN Institute Made Me Successful

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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. 

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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!

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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!

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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 lala@bestdelegate.com

Now, please allow me to introduce the amazing and talented team!

 

Kristen Corlay – Media Associate

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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

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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 

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 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

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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! 

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MUN Institute Alumni Spotlight: Daniel Gordon

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.

JJMUNC III Secretariat Members

JJMUNC III Secretariat Members

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!

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MUN Institute Alumni Spotlight: Darna Tajonera

Darna and her cousin, Best Delegate co-founder Ryan Villanueva, at the Santa Margarita annual MUN Awards.

Darna and her cousin, Ryan Villanueva, Best Delegate Co-Founder and Executive Director at the Santa Margarita annual MUN Awards.

Everyone’s MUN journey is different. Some delegates start off with natural confidence, debate skill, and public speaking prowess. Other delegates start off shy, and slowly build their skills as their confidence grows through practice. No matter how your MUN journey plays out, each delegate goes through formative experiences that have positive outcomes for their confidence and skills.

Darna Tajonera is one of those delegates. Her MUN journey began in 2014, when her cousin, who happens to be Ryan Villanueva, told her about his awesome job at Best Delegate. As a 7th grader, Darna had never participated in MUN before, but she opted to participate in the MUN Institute Junior Diplomat program at U.C. Berkeley in July of 2014.

Throughout the program, Darna worked on her public speaking and debate skills: “[At the beginning of the week], I was using filler words and mixing my words up. I was still confused about the process of MUN and its purpose, however, throughout the week I got more familiar with it.”

Now, almost two years later, Darna’s skills have evolved. “[Now], I am much more confident when I speak. I focus on projecting my message to the other delegates in committee. Before, I relied so heavily on reading my speeches off a notecard, but now I am warming up to memorizing my speeches and saying them with meaning.”

Darna’s skill progression has grown so much over the past couple years that she won the Best Delegate award for representing Italy in the General Assembly at Gaucho MUN, hosted by U.C. Santa Barbara. She also won a team award and was selected to speak at her high school’s annual MUN Awards this year.

Santa Margarita students at their annual MUN Awards.

Santa Margarita students at their annual MUN Awards.

Darna is especially grateful to be a part to the MUN program at her high school, Santa Margarita Catholic High School (SM). The program, which has been profiled previously on Best Delegate, focuses on building a supportive team community while encouraging students to be confident in their everyday lives.

When asked what makes SM’s MUN program stand out the most, Darna mentioned the team’s advisor, Mr. Remmell. “Dedicating hours on end to our MUN program as well as being a determined teacher, Mr. Remmell is one of the best teachers I have ever had and [has facilitated] a great start to my MUN high school career. [He] has led us to be outstanding MUN students who are confident and achieve our goals.”

In addition to bringing home numerous awards each year, SM’s MUN program also runs the South Orange County Model United Nations conference (SOCOMUN) each year, which is the largest one-day conference in the world. Darna is very proud of working on SOCOMUN – “[The conference] is a great learning experience and helps test out the waters for what delegates are getting into for the rest of the year.”

Overall, Darna has worked extremely hard since the beginning of her MUN journey until now. By attending the MUN Institute and working on her public speaking, debate, and caucusing skills, she has grown her confidence and has found success in many aspects of the MUN world. We’re so excited to see what she does next – congratulations Darna!

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What gives the MUN Institute its heartbeat? Is it the teachings that lead to the continued successes of students who applied them in the real world? Is it the expertise they bring with them, or even the innovation they leave behind? Absolutely. But, a closer look at the MUN Institute will show you that the constant behind it all is surely one thing: the people.

The summer of 2016 will be my third summer spent with the MUN Institute; I’ll have seen it as a student, as a diplomacy fellow (one of the college aged mentors), and now as the President of the Alumni Board. And, I’ve found that the reason I keep coming back is incontestably for the people.

Ryan Opening 2013One of these people, is Ryan Villanueva, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the MUN Institute. I’ve been a loyal disciple to his Socratic MUN pedagogy since the moment I first sat down with him, because he was the first person to teach me to do Model UN the right way. You can see that powerful moment captured in this photo, where I, with my backwards cap and all blue get-up, sat in the front row to listen to Ryan open up the Georgetown Flagship program in the summer of 2013.

Ryan explained that, “Model UN literally gave me the skills, and the confidence, to get into college; then learn how to manage teams, and how to lead, and that helped me launch my career after college. I think everybody who goes through Model UN and takes it seriously, realizes how much this activity meant to you, how much it did for you, and the environment and the community it created for you to achieve certain things in your life. I teach Model UN because I want to share that. I honestly see Model UN as my life’s work, and doing what I can to improve the activity, and share it with other people so they can have this transformative experience, is what drives me. It’s a vision that I call MUN for All. MUN is such a powerful and transformative activity, that every student in the world should have this opportunity. I think that Model UN should be in every country, available in every school, and accessible to every student, because it’s just that powerful of an activity.”

Ryan Villanueva with a student during an unmoderated caucus during the MUN Institute @ Harvard University 2015

Ryan Villanueva with a student during an unmoderated caucus during the MUN Institute @ Harvard University 2015

Ryan and the entire MUN Institute Staff bring passion, precision, and innovative spirit to the classroom. The staff create a sense of community and an insatiable desire to learn.

This culminates to what I now know as the MUN Institute’s core values. Passion for Model UN, bringing out the best in each other, being open to feedback, and professionalism. This is the Modus Operandi for the MUN Institute, and the environment in which everyone who is ever a student here will have the opportunity to learn Model UN within. It is both the vehicle of change for our beloved activity, and the change itself.

 

Ryan leading closing ceremonies at the Harvard iteration of the MUN Institute 2015

Ryan leading closing ceremonies at the Harvard iteration of the MUN Institute 2015

Ryan elaborates on this environment created by the MUN Institute staff, saying, “When I think about my goals for the staff, and what I want the staff experience to be, I really do believe in Best Delegate’s culture, and what we refer to as core values. I want the staff to live out those values through the summer, and in the process, I hope it will make them better teachers, but also bring them closer together as a team, through sharing these values. And, at the end of it all, I think it will make the program that much better too. When I was in college, and starting my career, I didn’t realize how important this was, but now as executive director, and as leader of a team and within community, you very much realize the importance of core values. They aren’t just words you write down, you frankly have to live them, you recruit by them, and you hire, and you train by them. And these four, for us as a team, have proven very key.”

What impresses me the most about Ryan in his interaction with Model UN as a whole is his dedication to not just give back to an activity from which he received so much, but to ameliorate both local and global Model UN. His insatiable desire to teach Model UN the right way, and passion for the activity itself and it’s real-word applicability, have rubbed off on the staff at the MUN Institute, ultimately leading to the learning environment the MUN Institute is famous for upholding.

Ryan teaching a group of exchange students from China at the Harvard 2015 iteration of the MUN Institute

Ryan teaching a group of exchange students from China at the Harvard 2015 iteration of the MUN Institute

The perpetual innovation in Model UN that can only be found at the MUN Institute is best described by Ryan himself. He notes, “We’re really trying to push this activity forward. It starts from understanding; there’s not one right way to do it. From the beginning of Best Delegate’s history, we’ve tried to visit different conferences, and meet different clubs and teams, to primarily understand, what is everybody doing? Then, the next step is to identify the themes to how people are teaching and approaching Model UN, and how we could look at Model UN in a single framework. For everybody else that now joins into Model UN, they should be aware that there’s this spectrum, and there are choices you can make, and most importantly, Model UN can serve your educational objectives. Before Best Delegate, no one’s tried looking at MUN this way. By making this perspective possible, so other people can look at Model UN holistically, I think it helps improve the activity, and now enables us to look at MUN critically. What should MUN be teaching? What are the best practices for teaching MUN? It’s part of a thesis that’s been brewing ever since we’ve started Best Delegate.”

Ryan during a simulation at the MUN Institute in the summer of 2015

Ryan during a simulation at the MUN Institute in the summer of 2015

As increasing numbers of alumni from the MUN Institute graduate high school, the number of acceptances to the world’s best universities of these alumni increases at pace, and this is no coincidence. The MUN Institute has consistently held it’s central focus on teaching key skills such as public speaking, research & writing, and diplomacy. What’s taught at the MUN Institute isn’t applicable to one exclusive domain, and that’s shown best by the diversity of college acceptances throughout our alumni pool. Ryan analyzes this trend, saying, “The goal [of the MUN Institute] is education. The goal can’t be MUN for MUN’s sake, it must serve a larger purpose. Our core focus is MUN, but, we’re about education through Model UN. Because we’re passionate about this activity, and we know how powerful it can be, we want others to experience it too. That brings in all these schools and all these students, who’ve never done or never even thought of Model UN before, and they’re able to enter that world through this curated professional experience and training, and go back to their schools and start Model UN programs for their school districts, or even a whole part of the country. What you literally have at the MUN Institute is some of the best MUN student leaders, and the best MUN expertise, and you’re putting us in a room with a hundred students who’ve never done MUN before (or are just starting) and then letting that magic happen. This is central to the MUN Institute.”

 

Ryan Columbia“Part of the job is setting a vision for [each] student. You layout this vision for them, and in that week, you need to inspire them to believe that this is possible. You’ll turn to a student who’s never done MUN before, and say, “you can do this too, and we will help you.” And over the course of that week you do your best to give them the skills, the knowledge, and the training, so that when they leave, they can do it on their own, and they can slowly make their way through that vision, with you on the sidelines cheering them on. That’s what we’re trying to create through Model UN.”

 

Ryan’s permeating positive affects that ripple through the MUN Institute are best exemplified in his goals for this coming summer. What he aims for, and what he achieves with Model UN through the MUN Institute is nothing short of revolutionary. Ryan explained his goals for the summer through the medium of his work in the lead-up, explaining,

Ryan teaching at the inaugural Advisors Institute at Georgetown 2015

Ryan teaching at the inaugural Advisors Institute at Georgetown 2015

“Right now I’m in charge of designing the curriculum for the summer, and a big thing that I want is for the staff to not only teach it successfully, and achieve certain educational objectives, but I want them to be able to look at this curriculum and say ‘Wow, where has this been my whole MUN career?’ Not only is this going to be the easiest, most efficient way to teach students Model UN, and the most effective way to help experienced students get better at MUN, but I would love to hear from our Diplomacy Fellows something like “I’m going to be able to use this to help myself become a better Model UN delegate, and share this with my team”. My goals for the summer are especially focused on the Advisors Institute, because it’s one of the most groundbreaking things we do at the MUN Institute. We not only train hundreds of students, but we train teachers. If you’re talking about scale, and impact, and for MUN for All, you need to be able to support teachers. So we’re going to teach teachers MUN, and I want them to look and this and say, this is what my students need, and with this material, we will start an MUN program. Beyond that, it’s goals for the entire student experience, I want everyone to walk away happy.”

Ryan&KFCPeople like Ryan are the heartbeat for the MUN Institute. His character, winning hand-diamond, and overall amiability and professionalism are infectious to both staff and students at the MUN Institute, and help everyone to achieve his vision of living out our core values while we learn and share together. 

For the time being, Ryan’s goals are for an unforgettable staff and student experience this coming summer, that leaves students with a chance to achieve all of their educational objectives through Model UN. Ryan has never been someone to look exclusively in the short-term, though, and through his work with the MUN Institute, he’s one step closer to achieving the life-long dream that is MUN for All.

Ryan sharing“What would it take to realize this vision? This is a 15 to 30 year idea, and you have to plan for this over decades. It even ties in to global educational goals; I look at the SDG’s over the next 15 years to be accomplished by 2030, and the goals of education are related not just to ensuring that children have access to primary and secondary education, and that it is of quality, but that it teaches civic engagement, that it teaches responsibility and tolerance, and to be educated about global problems, and to be inspired to one day solve them. Model UN is couched within a global education movement, that is about improving access to education and the quality of education everywhere, throughout the United States, and the World. When I look at Model UN that way, that’s what drives me. This will take the rest of my life to make that vision a reality. I don’t know if I’m going to be the one teaching it for the rest of my life, but I know that a significant part of my life will involve this activity, making it better, and making it more accessible for people all over the world.” – Co-Founder & Executive Director of the MUN Institute, Ryan Villanueva

 

Article by Diplomacy Fellow, and President of the Alumni Board, Steve Tempesta

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The first time someone explained Model UN to me, I was enthralled. I was already interested in international relations, so I had a base of knowledge about the UN, and my country’s involvement with it. It made so much sense to me that people would emulate what goes on there, especially for academic purposes, because what could be more fun than getting to give an impassioned speech about fundamental human rights in representation of any country on the planet? I came home at the end of that weekend with an award from my first Model UN conference, and promptly fell asleep in the front seat of the car as my dad drove home. When I woke up, I was shocked to learn that my parents had no idea whatsoever of how I spent the weekend, and they were even more befuddled with how they could determine awards in an activity where everyone was supposed to reach consensus. Oh, there was so much explaining to be done. While my parents still don’t quite have a grasp on my favorite activity, let the Alumni Board give you some tips on How to Explain Model UN to Your Parents.

 

Explain what MUN is

giphy-7MUN (Model United Nations) is a simulation of United Nations debates in which students role-play as delegates from all 193 member states (that means countries) during the course of a weekend. For a perfect summary, direct your attention to everyone’s favorite: Leonardo DiCaprio 

 

 

 

 

 

giphy-10Each conference usually lasts for three days to four days and it is divided in different “committees” where the structure and procedure vary, especially depending on where they take place in the world. No, mom, the actual world, not the MUN world (you can use North American, THIMUN, and UN4MUN procedures as your examples). Yes mom, I know this sounds really nerdy…

 

 

tumblr_nxenm74ICy1r83d7lo2_500And who doesn’t want their child to be a world leader someday, right? When beginning the process of explaining what MUN is to your parents, they will absolutely be confused. If need be, backtrack and make sure they first understand what the UN is, and how it operates; that will make your task at hand much easier. Now that they grasp that usually MUN is actually just kids, representing countries, in a simulation of the actual United Nations, and you’re debating things they’d actually debate… You can move into the crazier side of MUN.

 

Crisis Committees and Specialized Agencies 

giphy-6This one is going to take a little while, so buckle in. Crisis committees are the part of Model UN that makes the activity notorious, because the stories of things that take place within these committees are nothing short of extraordinary.

 

 

 

 

 

tumblr_luh7e6aasq1qglqnuo1_500These committees can be as civilized at the United States Supreme Court, or, you could be thrust into the rankings of the IRA during Margaret Thatcher’s term as Prime Minister, and quite literally everywhere in between.

 

 

 

Geopolitical ProblemsolvingCrisis committees are the ultimate test of creativity, because the delegate must have an in-depth knowledge of their country, or character, and be able to use that on the spot to the advantage. They will achieve their goals in secret by sending “crisis notes” to the crisis room, in which a number of staffers of the conference essentially play God for a given committee, and orchestrate organized mass chaos. They can achieve goals in committee in the very same way you would in regular Model UN, but these could be a diversion for their lesser-known intentions.

 

Explain what the MUN Institute is (and how badly you want to go)

tumblr_luicy1ch3B1qb3f0ao2_500The MUN Institute is an organization started by Ryan Villanueva and Kevin Felix-Chan, designed to teach kids Model UN, and all of the skills requisite to approach the activity confidently, and benefit the most from doing it. When you learn here, you’ll always start and end by learning that the best delegates bring out the best in other delegates.

 

 

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At the MUN Institute, students from all over the country, and the world, come together for week-long camps at the top universities in the United States to learn skills like public speaking, negotiation and diplomacy, targeted research, and writing.

 

 

 

 

Big_Remember_Me_Group_Hug_1Not only will no other summer camp match the enjoyment you’ll find at the MUN Institute, but you’ll make friendships that last a lifetime (even with friends from thousands of miles away), and you’ll learn more in a single week with us than you ever thought you could.

 

Layout the educational benefits

Despite the fact that MUN is an extra-curricular activity, the educational benefits you will gain will lead you to success in your academic life, starting from getting into college to becoming a worldwide leader in the future.

 

giphy-2Demonstrating in your application that you have done MUN will definitely make you stand out from the crowd. Not only are public speaking, debating, and writing skills heightened in these applicants, but students learn how to cooperate in groups, do detailed research, and foster attractive leadership qualities. The founders of the MUN Institute went to Yale, and UCLA, and since, our alumni have been accepted and attend almost every Ivy league and Top university in the United States.

 

 

giphy-7These subjects are not always taught in class. Therefore, it is essential in the educational objectives of students to expose themselves to this material as well. Many students who have done MUN during middle, high school and/or university agree on the fact that they would not have accomplished all their goals if it was not for MUN.

 

The valuable experience of MUN

What makes Model UN differ from any other academic discipline is the fact that it doesn’t rely solely on academic knowledge, but social skills too. When you’re explaining MUN to your parents it is extremely important that you emphasize on how it can help you overall as a person.

 

modernfamily-presentation_650Do you stammer when you get up in front of room, grasping at words unsuccessfully before they all fall to the floor? Do you dread any assignment that has an accompanying presentation in school? Is this you, perhaps?

 

This activity goes beyond a “right or wrong” answer, it leads to negotiations, debates, agreements, and so much more. Have you noticed that after doing MUN for a while, you become more open to public speaking, wittier and more engaged in debate, or even enjoy and thrive in interacting with new people more? These are valuable life skills that MUN exposes you to on a daily basis.

 

tumblr_mko2nxwmzg1qe5ugfo2_r1_500When you talk about the value of a simulation you don’t just weight in on the award you won, or the historical inaccuracies that happened in the committee. You most often value each conference by the people you met, by how you kept your diplomacy, or even by how you created a friendship that will last for a lifetime. This is probably one of the most important assets that you need to let people know when you’re explaining MUN. 

 

 

foreign-policy-backAlso, you’ll ALWAYS remember that one time you said the coolest thing in a follow up speech and won over the room right after.

 

 

 

 

MUN goes beyond the awards

Yes, it is pretty cool to go up to your parents and say: look at what I won this weekend! Model United Nations is an activity that can earn you awards, but at the end of the day, that gavel won’t be the thing you’re most proud of. You’ll be most proud of your position paper which took you hours of researching, your clever way of negotiating a truce with another competitive delegate, your ability to stay calm in times of crisis, and how all those hours spent doing MUN helped to get you where you are today.

 

tumblr_o3anu2fe3H1r83d7lo8_500There are parents who care exclusively about their children earning awards, and others who don’t want their kids to be exposed to an overly-competitive environment at all. We’re confident that if you explain Model UN to your parents for all of the benefits it brings you, and the fun you’ll be having, that that’s what they’ll care about too. After all, doing Model UN is only going to help you be a part of the solutions to the biggest problems the world faces collectively today.

I can assure you that there is a time in which you will forget if you won an award at a specific conference, and all you will have left are memories to laugh about and re-tell. So, go up to your parents and show them your awards, and make them proud! But just don’t forget to explain what goes on beyond them. And remember, the best part of Model UN is knowing that it only took you four days and a few hours of lost sleep to eliminate the world’s stash of nuclear weapons and have all the world’s children educated by 2030. Nice work!

We sincerely hope this article gives you a few ideas on how to go about explaining MUN to your parents, and if nothing else, we hope it helps you convince them to let you spend some time at the MUN Institute this summer!

 

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Not Just for Students: The MUN Advisor Institute

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When most people think of the Model United Nations Institute by Best Delegate (MUN Institute), they imagine elementary, middle, and high school students practicing Model United Nations, all while living and learning at some of the nation’s best colleges and universities. While this vision is definitely correct, there’s another part of the MUN Institute that doesn’t immediately come to mind – the MUN Advisor Institute.

Starting at Rutgers MUN (RUMUN) in 2010, Best Delegate co-founders Kevin Felix Chan and Ryan Villanueva traveled to conferences around the country to offer short presentations for high school-level MUN advisors. These presentations focused on general overviews of MUN, the latest trends on the circuit, and other bite-size pieces of knowledge that could fit into an hour-long talk.

As the vision for a full professional development program for advisors took form, Ryan and Kevin began to implement this idea around the world. At the October 2014 iteration of the Qatar Leadership Conference, and at the January 2015 iteration of THIMUN Qatar, the first ever Directors’ Institutes were held for visiting MUN instructors. During the summer of 2015, the first MUN Advisor Institute was held in the United States.

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Advisor Institute has evolved from one-hour-long presentations to full week programs for MUN advisors seeking to learn about the latest trends in MUN education and practice.

The vision for Advisor Institute has always been to create a program where advisors who have never participated in MUN themselves can learn about the process – that way, they can better support and encourage their MUN students.

“Advisors are often thrown into the role [of leading a MUN team] without having prior experience or a background in MUN,” said Ryan Villanueva, Best Delegate Co-Founder and MUN Institute Executive Co-Director. “Before Best Delegate there were very few professional resources for MUN – it was always students teaching other students, not educators teaching other educators.”

During the Advisor Institute, advisors work through many of the lessons that students also learn during the MUN Institute – how to give a speech, how to write resolutions, how to negotiate with other delegates, and much more. Advisors also participate in lessons and discussions on how the United Nations works, its history, and how Model UN and the real UN differ. Discussing the Advisor Institute curriculum, Ryan Villanueva said, “We’re teaching them not just how to prepare their delegates, but also how it feels to be a delegate.”

The most unique part of Advisor Institute is that advisors have the option to take a certification test – if they pass, they are certified as Model United Nations educators. This exam is one of a kind in the United States, and offers MUN teachers the opportunity to put their newly-minted MUN knowledge to the test.

At the end of the week all advisors participate in a MUN committee simulation – just like all other MUN Institute students. They take what they learn in Advisor Institute and apply it to a committee session; all that public speaking and negotiation practice really comes in handy!

But it’s not just about the MUN skills. “We’re not just teaching these teachers how to prepare students for conferences, we’re teaching them what Model UN can do for students, how it prepares them to lead, and how it allows them to develop their confidence,” said Ryan when asked about the primary goal of MUN Advisor Institute.

Kathik Illakuvan attended last year and said that, “The MUN Advisor Institute was such a great way to understand what it’s like for our students as they embark upon their Model UN adventure. Not only were we provided with resources galore that we could take back to our schools, but we were also given so much feedback and educational instruction in how to best convey content and Model UN procedure to our students.”

Lara Diallo who also attended the Advisor Institute in 2015 explained that, “This experience was an excellent course into the basics of Model UN that has given me the confidence to start a club at my school!”

Overall, the Model United Nations Advisor Institute is a groundbreaking program to help teachers learn about Model UN, start new programs, and lead their delegates to success at conferences and beyond. This summer, Advisor Institute is being hosted from June 27 through July 1 at Georgetown University, and from August 1 through August 5 at Harvard University.

Learn more about Advisor Institute here!

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What are top universities such as Harvard looking for these days? How can Model United Nations help students stand out with college admissions? Wondering how to write your college essay about Model UN, how to leverage Model UN in college interviews, and how to include Model UN on your resume?

We answer all of these questions and more in our webinar! Head over to the video gallery on our Social tab to see the full webinar recording!

Our alumni have gone on to Harvard, Yale, and many other top universities as well as some amazing internship and career opportunities! With college season upon us, the MUN Institute wants to share how some of our alumni have used Model UN in their essays, interviews, and resumes to get accepted to their dream schools, and achieve success beyond graduation. Isaac an MUN Institute Alumni, following the live presentation of the webinar, noted, “This is simply amazing!” We hope you find this webinar just as helpful!

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