By MARIE LANDINGIN (a.k.a. Japan).

Full of nerves and enthusiasm, I – and over 200 other high school students – recently spent a weekend  in the shoes of UN ambassadors. It was the Auckland Model United Nations 2016 at the University of Auckland, from March 12 to 13.

To start with, as a first-time delegate I found this whole idea quite daunting – yet so amazingly awesome. So what is this “Model United Nations” and why take part in it?

Auckland Model United Nations, otherwise known as AMUN, is a recreation of the real United Nations (UN), organised by UN Youth Aotearoa New Zealand. The UN is a global governmental organisation that promotes international cooperation.

With the growing concern for natural disasters, material hardship and global security, climate change was the focus and theme of this AMUN. Throughout the thought-provoking conference, we were faced with questions of how the international community can adapt to the changing world. How could we respond? How could we develop resilience? How could we change or create regulations to prevent the negative impacts of climate change?

AMUN challenged young delegates to strategically think about the issues of global carbon taxation, agricultural modernisation, indigenous land rights, climate change refugees, global energy and health.

The student “delegates” represented a UN member state (or country) or non-governmental organisation (NGO), experiencing what it is like to be a diplomat at the United Nations. We were given the opportunity to analyse and understand the different issues that result from climate change and how this impacts the increasingly globalised community. We were challenged to think and debate innovative solutions to these problems. Having to act as the representative of a nation or global organisation challenges you to understand how nations work.

The conference was jam-packed with invigorating and fascinating activities, charged with the spirit of enthusiasm from delegates passionate about the world. We had the opportunity to engage in stimulating debate, listen to and meet guest speakers, and meet like-minded students and friends.

Regardless of your debating skills, or prior knowledge about “resolutions”, “amendments”, or “national sovereignty,” AMUN was a fascinating, eye-opening experience. Being involved in something big – on an international scale – puts our small part of the world in perspective.

However, AMUN is more than just an academic competition. Throughout the conference, creativity and fun were strong forces to be reckoned with. Believe it or not, amidst all the political debate there was punishment by dancing, quizzes about Taylor Swift and out-of-the-box solutions to solve climate change and global security.

Dyson spheres around the sun – and Kanye West – were debated as solutions to threats to global security and climate change. AMUN was both incredibly informative and hugely memorable.

Here are a few handy tips for your next Model United Nations:

#1 Research, research, research!

To make the most out of your AMUN experience, make books and the internet your best friends. Get a folder of information with research on your member state, its foreign policies, and its stance on the global issue at hand. If it’s your first time, make sure to search up what AMUN is and how it works.

#2. Challenge yourself

One of my biggest regrets was not putting myself out there enough. AMUN will challenge you to face global issues head on; issues that spark a lot of controversy across the world. You will probably find yourself out of your comfort zone, perhaps not knowing a single person in the room or struggling to say a speech to a large group of people. MUN will challenge you to jump out of that bubble of comfort, which will be extremely helpful as you go on in life.

#3. Have fun!

Although AMUN is known as an academic competition and it can be a bit daunting at first (trust me, I know), in the end you will absolutely not regret what you learnt and meeting the people you met. It will be awesome, I promise.

Whether you are a passionate debater, interested in the world, or concerned with global issues and politics, give events like Auckland Model United Nations a try. Apply for other MUN events in your region and seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

 

Learn more or get involved with UN Youth Aotearoa New Zealand by visiting their site.

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