My story about how I began Model UN is not unlike many others: I was at a club fair, a shy freshman just entering high school, and I saw a poster advertising improved speaking skills and a greater knowledge of world politics. I was interested in both improving my public speaking skills and learning more about the world, so I took a leap of faith.
Three years later, I was elected Secretary-General of my school’s club and conference. It is a daunting task to run a club of over fifty members and oversee a conference with over four hundred people were in attendance, but my school managed to produce a spectacular season this year. We took home delegation awards, ran a wildly successful conference, and trained in new underclassman delegates along the way.
Now that I’m finally moving on to the collegiate Model UN, I’ve gone through the often emotional process of passing the torch to the club leadership for 2020-21. Although our timeline was cut short due to COVID-19, there are a few steps that I took to ensure that my school’s Model UN team will continue to thrive over the next year under the new leadership.
Communicate with Your Sponsor or Faculty Advisor
My team is incredibly lucky to have such an amazing sponsor. She takes care of coordinating paperwork, organizing trips to conferences, overseeing our conference itself, and dealing with any curveballs our school throws at us along the way. She manages all this while also being a mom to everyone on the team; we wouldn’t be able to do anything without her.
While not every Model UN club is as lucky as we are when it comes to the engagement level of the sponsor or faculty advisor, it is always incredibly important that you make sure that future leaders are able to work alongside the adult of the team. Model UN is among the most taxing clubs for a teacher to advise, and that arduous job is only made more difficult by a team of uncommunicative officer teams.
No matter how much you may dislike your faculty advisor, it is in the best interest of the club to ensure their engagement remains consistent even after you graduate.
When you are helping nominate the leadership for next year, make sure your faculty advisor is directly involved. For my school, we held elections over Facebook, Gmail, and Google Forms; however, a winning candidate was not determined until we had the approval of our faculty advisor. We ran by our selections for Officer positions by her, too. I did this because I wanted to set up the foundation for a strong, functioning relationship between the leadership for next year and our sponsoring adult.
Document Everything and Keep Organized Records
The thing to avoid is leaving the leadership for next year in a position where they begin the year at square zero. You do not want the next Secretary-General to be starting from scratch: the goal is to put structures in place such that the year begins without a tremendous amount of last-minute planning. Things like training curriculum, simulation background guides, lists of bonding activities, and instructions for impromptu speaking games should not get re-written every single year. Organize this content somewhere easily accessible for the new leaders (perhaps a Shared Google Drive), such that there is no need to dig through old records to find basic training curriculum.
Alongside training members, make sure to have detailed conversations with next year’s leadership so they understand what they need to do to succeed over the next years. On a practical level, “passing the torch” is merely a metaphor for what is actually just sitting down with the leaders for next year and providing guidance. Be a welcoming resource for them: make sure they understand that you are available to answer any and all questions they have regarding running the club. For me, the Secretary-Generals that came before me provided invaluable information that allowed me to run the club. I owe much of my success to their guidance from years prior.
Plan Ahead Early On In Your Term
Taking steps to ensure the success of years post-graduation means planning ahead, and taking proactive measures before the end of your term arrives. Make inroads with younger members and establish relationships with potential future team leaders to inspire confidence. Do this at the beginning of the school year, and maintain those relationships for the full length of your time as a club leader. Being a great leader for your club is not always about inspiring pep talks or grand speeches: sometimes it is just about being a welcoming force and an approachable resource for all members.
So, start as early as possible: write things down and take steps to support the leaders that will follow you. The stability of the club’s performance depends on this type of forward thinking.
As a graduating Secretary-General, it is your obligation to ensure a smooth transition for the next year. Your obligations do not resolve after the last conference.
So, be deliberate with your actions: take steps before you say your goodbyes to set your team up for success following your departure. What better parting gift?
Related Article: Ways to Combat Model UN Burnout as a Graduating Senior