The coronavirus pandemic has brought an abrupt end to the 2020 Model UN season. Conferences and club meetings, the two main sources of team bonding for most high school Model UN teams, have been taken away. The head delegate has already sent several heartfelt emails praising the team’s efforts throughout the season and reassured the underclassmen of the many conferences to come. The team members organize a Zoom call to discuss the pandemic and share their regrets of not being able to attend the final few conferences. But what next?
Without a conference to prepare for until the next school year, will it be necessary to devote time to Model UN during the pandemic?
The short answer to that question is yes. The skills that make a successful Model UN delegate, well, successful, are skills that need to be practiced consistently. A delegate’s success lies not only in their ability to interact with others using emotional intelligence, but their own abilities in research, public speaking, and writing-all of which should be continuously improving. Being able to craft speeches on the spot may come naturally when you are doing it every weekend, but you do not want to be the delegate that has to cut their speech short with an awkward “Thank you” because you have not practiced public speaking in months.
The pandemic gives delegates extra time to focus on the technical aspects of Model UN that they may not necessarily have the time to do during club meetings, and certainly do not have time to work on during conferences.
Brushing up on parliamentary procedure, researching current events in the UN, and practicing impromptu speeches on Zoom with other delegates will all benefit the delegate and the team come next season. For those schools who have had to cancel trips or their own conference, a virtual conference teaches delegates professionalism and communication with other delegates across the country.
In addition to individual dedication to Model UN, it is equally as important for the team to come together even without the intense pressure of a conference. Even during conferences, intellectual conversations strictly between team members are limited due to the countless meetings and hectic committee sessions. The pandemic offers invaluable time for all delegates to spend time learning each other’s strategies as well as learning about the different committees they may not have yet been exposed to. The experiences that a crisis delegate may have had may not sound remotely like Model UN to a delegate who has only been in General Assembly committees.
The best Model UN teams will not only strengthen their individual Model UN abilities, but their cohesiveness as a team. Simply reconvening at the start of the next school year will leave delegates unprepared for future conferences and the team unqualified to take on leadership roles they must eventually fill.
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