Model United Nations: A personal transformation

When I look back on my MUN experience, I can hardly believe how much I’ve grown. If you had asked me freshman year if I wanted to run for chair, I would have nervously laughed this idea off and responded with a definitive “No.” Back then, I hurriedly signed up for conference without knowing exactly what was involved. Upon researching my country—North Korea—I became frightened and intimidated by the lack of sources for my Country Research Paper and promptly bowed out. Although I thought I would never attempt Model UN again, I decided I would take a risk and try again since everyone told me how much fun it was. I did not say much my first year, but I watched in awe, thinking how intelligent and eloquent the other delegates were. This instilled in me the determination to return the next year with a strong and positive mindset. 

Three years later, I found myself sitting proudly at the front of the room with a gavel in my hand and a purpose in my heart. In coherence with this year’s conference theme, Youth Empowerment, I felt it was my responsibility to serve as a confident, caring, and accessible role model for my delegates. I could not have fathomed becoming a chair my freshman year, but now I realize this has been an incredible honor and privilege to be elected to serve as chair of the African Union, especially since my chair had inspired and encouraged me. I wanted to carry on this legacy of exemplary leadership, and so making delegates recognize their potential became my goal and my drive. Not only this, but I was excited about keeping the camaraderie of the tight-knit African Union family alive.

Although planning the conference was a lot of work throughout the year, I can honestly say that serving as a chair was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and is one that I will never forget. From the moment committee session was called to order, my delegates remained energized and eager to create resolutions, constantly raising their placards in the air; entertaining speakers’ lists became difficult when 30 delegates wanted to speak at a time! Not only that, but delegates became invigorated by debate; they offered viable solutions for each of our three topics—malnutrition, drug trafficking, and child soldiers—and would continue some debates for over an hour! At the end of conference, I was moved to tears as delegates wrote me a collective Character Development Award and approached me with their personal thank you’s. They told me how about how special I made their conference experience and I became filled with emotion. When we adjourned committee session for the last time, I watched my delegates do our official African Union handshake one last time as they headed out the door with beaming smiles, new friends, and a boost in confidence. My mission had been fulfilled.

Additionally, there was another major contributor that made my experience so fulfilling: The Officer Corps. The officers were some of the brightest and most encouraging group of people that I have ever met; I knew that no matter what the situation, I could always count on each and every one of them for support. Together, we discovered the true meaning behind “Our Deepest Fear,” by Marianne Williamson, a poem that our program director Curtis Myers held near to his heart and felt was important for us to memorize. The lines that particularly stood out to me were the opening two: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” While many of us were nervous to chair, we were all able to conquer our deepest fears and rise to the task, united and stronger than ever.

I am incredibly thankful to Peddie and the YMCA for giving me with this life-changing opportunity. Through my years of doing MUN in high school, I know that I have gained more confidence in myself and my speaking abilities. While I am sad that my last conference is over, I now look forward to returning as an alumnus so I may pay forward to this extraordinary program. And, though the phrase has been exhausted, I feel that it still rings so true: “MUN is fun.”