What is Model United Nations and what are the benefits of taking it?


I see a lot of students participating in Model United Nations events like Harvard and Yale Model United Nations and MUNA. How do these events work?


MUN events are simulations of united nations negotiations where students participate and represent/embody the viewpoint of a particular country or organisation within the united nations context. Discussions and debates are diverse and range from international terrorism to overpopulation to conflict diamonds in Africa.

The benefits of taking MUN as an extracurricular activity in my opinion are that it builds public speaking skill on sometimes complicated and difficult issues requiring analysis, improves engagement skills with other students, allows you to meet people with similar interests and build networks/communities, and overall improves your worldview.

I would advise taking this extracurricular if you are interested in the above points, or world issues in general. If you are interested in model UN from the standpoint of a student applying to universities overseas which take an interest in your extracurricular activities, many students applying to competitive universities demonstrate their curiosity about the world through model UN; however in order to stand out with model UN you should really believe in the idea of it and commit strongly as it is highly popular. Personally, I took model UN because it was unfamiliar and nothing like I had ever done before, and I very glad about the way it allowed me to immerse myself in a community of inspired, hardworking and interesting individuals the likes of which I sometimes struggled to find back home.

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There are 2 awards up for grabs at the MUN, the Best Speaker Award and the Best Delegate award.

The former is awarded to the most eloquently spoken, persuasive and sophisticated delegate on the floor, while the latter is usually reserved for the delegate who manages to hustle the resolutions to the benefit of his country by politicking and whipping up support for his motions, while galvanising antagonism against motions he wishes to fail. It isn’t much coincidental that the delegates who receive these awards often represent either dominant or controversial countries in the likes of America, Russia, China, Britain, Iraq and Iran for which I received the Best Delegate award at the 2008 Auckland MUN, primarily for torching the United States of America.

Besides these two awards you may or may not win, the satisfaction of throwing everything out as preposterous, while narcissistically claiming personal triumph whenever a resolution with your country’s name passes is the politicking spirit that MUNers scrimmage and bond over.

If you participate and network at enough MUNs, you will have the chance to be elected the UNYANZ Auckland Representative for the year at the AGM. During your 1-year tenure, you will be helping coordinate future events, liaison with high schools in your region and fulfil additional MUN duties, which can be a cool regional-level leadership position to add to your experience.

Continual involvement and achievement may culminate in selection to represent New Zealand at the Harvard and Yale Model United Nations (contact g.wallace@crimsoneducation.org for more info on applying for a spot on our next delegation).

Should MUN be absent at your school, this could be an independent project where you can see yourself as the founder organising the schools’ inaugural MUN, which may sound like a lot of work, but with ample resources already available and past organisers to leverage experience from, it’s a very feasible and high-impact initiative you could execute on.

If you’d like a more comprehensive assessment and strategy on your extracurricular activities, like if you’re unsure which ones to do this year or which would be the most beneficial, shoot me a quick email at p.kim@crimsoneducation.org and I can break it down for you.