By Anne Davey, Staff Writer
March 27, 2013
This past Valentine’s Day weekend, High Point University’s Model United Nations club (MUN) traveled to Boston, Mass., to participate in the 59th annual Harvard National Conference. While some enjoyed a relaxing weekend with their sweetheart, or perhaps a good movie on the couch by their lonesome, High Point MUN traveled way up to cold, snowy Boston to visit Harvard University.
The club partook in the Harvard National Model United Nations (HNMUN), where students took on the role of a member state of the United Nations, to be involved in a wide array of committees and work to solve real issues that the United Nations faces.
Over 3,000 students from 48 nations across the globe traveled to attend the conference; 18 students from High Point were among them. High Point represented the member nation of Austria, a huge showing of how much the club has grown over the past few years. To be chosen to represent a prominent and powerful nation with good standing in the United Nations (U.N.) is truly an honor.
MUN is a student run club on campus that anyone can join, but usually students involved have an interest in current events, politics, diplomacy, international relations or similar topics. In order to prepare for the Harvard National Conference, the club begins working in early October, typically by researching the nation that they are assigned. This year, High Point represented Austria; last year the club represented Cape Verde.
Students prepped for this experience by giving presentations on topics ranging from the legal system, to businesses in the country they were chosen to represent. As the conference drew closer, the members held mock-U.N. debates, using parliamentary procedure as they do in the real U.N., and practice public speaking about relevant topics.
Additionally, each student must write position papers for their specific committees, stating how the nation feels concerning the topic of the committee. When it comes time for the actual committee, all of these steps play a major role in having the club ready for the event and for the tasks ahead.
When it comes time for the conference, students must work together with all other nations, forming blocs and alliances based on similar interests in order to ultimately pass a resolution or resolve a crisis. These are the two main end goals for the entire conference, varying in each separate committee.
Most of the individual work is done before hand, but at the conference it is about collaborating, merging ideas, and acting as the U.N. really would. HNMUN is an international conference. Just as the U.N. is international, students from all around the world must work together to write a law, pass a resolution to the conflict, and agree on international standards for issues.
While the solutions crafted do not actually go to the U.N., the students learn what it is like, what the challenges are, and possible areas for improvement within the U.N. Often, solutions are not reached, mirroring what goes on regularly in the U.N.
Being actively engaged in discussion, debate and networking, despite lack of a solution, is an invaluable lesson for all young men and women, not only for those who wish to work in foreign affairs or politics.
“Our trip to Boston for the Harvard National Model United Nations was one of my favorite experiences while at High Point University,” says senior business major Caitlin Mucha. “It was truly a life-changing opportunity. I was able to meet and befriend people from all over the world. The memories and friendships I gained from the trip will remain with me long after I graduate from High Point.”
This experience is especially valuable for a diverse, student-run club like the one here at High Point. High Point’s MUN club prides itself on its extreme diversity, both in age and ethnicity. Students involved range from freshman to seniors, and this year, of the 18 students that went to conference, five were international students.
“HNMUN was an amazing experience. I learned so much and met so many influential and intelligent people,” says senior Katie Norman. “The experience broadened my horizons and was a great chance to participate in an event that was so diverse.”
High Point’s increased presence at the HNMUN conference only paves the way for future success as larger nations, and invitations to other conferences. Additionally, the club is looking to branch out into hosting their own conference, as well as helping to facilitate high school conferences across North Carolina.
Participating actively in the United Nations is an experience most will never get. High Point MUN takes students as close to the real thing as possible. Having an organization right here on campus that is directly involved, experienced and open to all lays down the ground work for more great successes.