The pen is mightier than the sword, as the expression goes. That goes without saying at most major conferences, as having a sword in your possession during debate would likely be in violation of the delegate code of conduct. But nothing screams “international diplomacy” like holding a large broadsword to your opponent’s jugular vein.
Note: All-American Model United Nations neither recommends nor endorses the use of medieval weaponry in Model United Nations.
So, if you can’t bring any weapons with you to conferences, what can you bring? Western business attire and notebooks aside, here are a few supplemental items I recommend you bring with you to a conference to ensure success.
A password-locked flash drive
The naïve side of me wants to believe that everyone at a MUN conference is equally invested in the overall success of the committee, and blissfully oblivious to any potential awards or accolades. On the other hand, the practical side of me knows that many times, the competitive nature of the sport can tempt the less ethical side of many delegates. Therefore, I always like to password-protect everything my bloc and I use. Nothing can be altered or removed without your permission, and nobody can submit your work without you being there giving up the password. Obviously, before you go hand your flash drive to the chair to get the resolution printed, you should unlock the drive–but until that point, keep your wits (and sensitive resolutions) about you.
Power cords for both your cell phone and your laptop
Nothing kills bloc momentum like your laptop running out of battery. Not only that, if your laptop is out of commission, that’s just one more way that someone else can be more active and more involved than you. Having a functioning laptop allows you to both lead resolution-writing efforts and, if necessary, do research on the fly. Make sure you’re fully charged before coming to committee, but bring a cord just in case. The same goes for your cell phone–you can’t start a WhatsApp group or communicate about meetings outside of committee without juice for your phone.
Plus, if someone else needs a charge, you can give it to them and use their poor planning as lobbying leverage. People respond well if you do nice things for them.
Snacks on Snacks on Snacks on Snacks
The importance of bringing tasty, nutrient-dense snacks cannot be overstated. I know, we’re talking about Model United Nations, not a backpacking trip–but trust me when I say snacks will have their usefulness. If you’re in the middle of a marathon nighttime writing session, if you skip lunch to do research in the business center, if you’re so excited about MUN that you just can’t stop moving for long enough to sit down and eat something, you need backup fuel. I’m a fan of Clif Builder Bars: 20 grams of protein, and they taste deeeelicious. Be sure to keep them in a plastic bag or something, because they have a tendency to melt.
The Backup Tie
Have you ever gotten Pinkberry while wearing your WBA and accidentally spilled chocolate frozen yogurt on your tie? I have. Don’t be me. Bring a backup tie. If you’re feeling very insecure about your eating abilities while in WBA, perhaps even bring an extra shirt in your backpack. In general, it’s always good to be prepared for any funny clothing eventualities–you don’t need to bring an entire extra set of clothes with you, but be aware and accepting of the risks that come with consuming food in your WBA. In a pinch, at a conference like HMUN that takes place inside a giant mall, you can get away with buying a new tie. But why spend all that money when you can just be better prepared?
Crisis notes (written after first session)
This is a bit of a murky area depending on rules at individual conferences, but I’m of the belief that working on crisis notes and arcs outside of committee is an excellent way to save time and energy. This entry is, of course, not enough to fully explain the importance of crisis arcs or the best way to go about constructing them–but that doesn’t make them any less relevant. Consider the powers available to your country or position, consider how you can use those powers to influence committee, and prepare detailed yet flexible plans of action in advance. If you’ve already written a detailed crisis note describing how you intend to kneecap someone across the room from you, you have that much more time to raise your placard and talk instead of hurriedly scribbling something on a scrap of paper.
“A watch? Why would I need to bring a watch when I have my phone?”
Well, more often than not, you can’t very easily bring out your phone during committee sessions. A watch helps you budget time spent writing notes, resolutions, or speeches. In larger committees where I only get to speak five or six times a session, I like to use a watch to time my speeches in my head so I make the most out of the brief time I get in front of the entire group. Successful delegates aren’t necessarily the smartest or the most eloquent–but they get the joke about time management and can therefore make the most of their time in committee with speaking, lobbying, and notes.
And let’s not forget about the dais. An added benefit of using a watch instead of your phone is that it takes away any temptation for the chair or a vice chair to think you’re playing a game, texting one, or posting valuable…’feedback’ on Yik Yak.
A MUN-specific email address
I suppose “bringing” this item is a little abstract. That being said, have a specific email for your country and committee. With this email, all of your communications with other delegates and the chair are reserved to a single address and inbox. This not only centralizes all of your email communications for the weekend, it also ensures that your regular inbox doesn’t get inundated with MUN-related nonsense you’ll forget about in two weeks. Plus, you can send group resolutions to the chair and make them think you’re far more involved than you actually are. Just make sure your country name and committee name are in the address somewhere; it’ll get the hint across.
Additionally, it removes the embarrassment of the chair asking the entire committee:
Who is “[email protected]”?
I’ve never seen a face quite so red with embarrassment. Don’t be [email protected].
A college-ruled notebook
There have been five separate occasions in which either I or another delegate wrote a resolution that was later handed back by the chair for being illegible. I have pretty mediocre handwriting, so using lined paper out of a notebook or something helps immensely. Honestly, you don’t need to use lined paper in all of your communications with the dais or other delegates, but I’m of the opinion that being as neat as possible is important. Plus, full-size sheets of paper make for great paper airplanes in the final committee session–even if you don’t gavel, you can be secure with the knowledge that you’re the champion of paper aeronautics.
Gum/Mints/Anything so You Don’t Smell Disgusting
I really don’t know why more people don’t think of this. Always keep Tic Tacs or gum in your backpack to keep your breath smelling fresh. Acceptable flavors: mint, cinnamon. Anything else is ridiculous and should be saved for non-conference consumption. Most people are committed enough to Model UN to push through your halitosis, but if you’re trying to lobby folks at the back of the room who are more interested in the delegate dance than writing resolutions, you need to have minty-fresh breath to charm their votes. Note: don’t chew gum when you’re giving a speech or speaking to a large group in unmod. It makes you sound and look like an idiot, or someone from California (it’s ok, I’m from the Bay Area).
If you’re a gentleman (or lady) like me who spends way too much time styling and adjusting their hair prior to a committee session, plan ahead for the inevitable destruction of your hard work following a long committee session. Keep a comb or hairbrush in your bag so you can make a mad dash for the bathroom before lunch starts and re-do your ‘do. Professionalism and appearance are a big part of success in lobbying and public speaking. If you look put-together, people are more likely to give you and your resolution a shot.
All of these items are really basic, but easily overlooked or forgotten when packing. Your competitive edge at a conference could be from your debate skills or your research–but these ten items will definitely help you out at some point during a competitive conference. Do you have any other “must-have” items for a conference? Comment below!
Now we know!
And knowing is half the battle.
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