Whether you are a freshman trying to branch out into as many clubs as possible, or a senior frantically trying to flush out a college application at the last possible minute, you have landed on this article likely because you are new to Model United Nations. Students of all walks of life gravitate towards this activity for all sorts of different reasons, and you, too, have your own unique reason for joining the community. But regardless of how you got here, or your reasons for staying, there are three general attitudes you should keep in mind as you head into your first year in the activity we all adore so thoroughly:
1.) Lean into the discomfort.
There will be many moments over the next eight months or so when you feel awkward and out of place. You will deliver speeches in front of large crowds of people, you will wear formal business attire for maybe the first time ever, and you will attempt to build an unfamiliar skillset that involves things like lobbying for votes, planning crisis arcs, and debating topics you’ve never heard of from the perspective of countries you may not be able to pin on a map. At times, it may feel like you are just a dumb kid playing dress up: this is a feeling of helplessness and inferiority which is familiar to even the most experienced of delegates.
My advice to you is this: acknowledge that discomfort and awkwardness, and work through it.
Standing alone in a corner during every unmoderated caucus will only make you feel more out of place; so, raise your placard, voice your opinion, and engage.
2.) Remember to be genuine.
There is, of course, much to be learned from Model UN in terms of academics, diplomacy skills, and political applications, too. What is easy to forget, though, is that MUN conferences provide students with the invaluable opportunity to connect with others from the same age group from countries all across the globe. Too many delegates get wrapped up in the competition of committee and miss out on the chance to expand their worldview by engaging in conversation and social interaction with others they meet. So, at your first conference, remember that striking a balance between taking the activity seriously and letting loose enough to reap the benefits of both is essential to your satisfaction as a delegate.
3.) Learn from those around you.
The prospect of winning awards, though it may be a perfectly acceptable motivation for staying engaged throughout a conference, can sometimes be a distraction. At some conferences, awards will go your way, and at others, they won’t. Regardless of how fair you perceive these decisions to be, an essential skill in any competitive activity is the ability to learn from those better than you instead of resenting their ability. Though it may be at your expense, you will encounter more experienced delegates at most conferences you attend, whether it be due to their age or a better funded MUN program at their school. Learn from them. Pay attention to their strategies. Consider how they bolstered their popularity among delegates in order to win votes. Watch carefully and you’ll find what works.