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Why Should You Join the Model United Nations (MUN)

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Group of students doing a thumbs up and smiling

Why Should You Join Model United Nations (MUN)

The Model United Nations started in 1927 before the UN even existed. At that time, the program was known as the Model Assembly of the League of Nations, and keynote speakers such as Eleanor Roosevelt and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan amplified the presence of the program.

It eventually grew to its current popularity with over 5,000 students attending conferences each year. Conferences are typically staffed by UN Secretariat members and faculty from top universities like Harvard, Yale, and Georgetown.

a group of students talking each other in the library

When is the 2025 Model United Nations?

Model United Nations members have the opportunity to participate in national conferences held in three different locations. The first set of conferences will take place in New York City from April 6-10 and April 13-17, 2025.

Another conference will be held in Washington, D.C., from November 8-10, 2024.

There is also a conference scheduled in San Cristóbal Island, Galápagos, Ecuador, from November 22 to December 1, 2024. These conferences provide Model United Nations participants with valuable experiences in discussing and negotiating challenging global issues, simulating the real United Nations environment where delegates represent the perspectives of their assigned countries or organizations.

Model United Nations or National Speech

You’ll learn how to delegate important and critical issues currently facing the world, such as internet privacy, artificial intelligence, debt sustainability, combating human trafficking, or combating climate change.

You’ll collaborate with diverse and socially conscious students who are also seeking to empower themselves with hands-on educational experience. Being a Model United Nations member will help you in your goals of changing the world, and allow you to understand the difficult nature of compromise even within a simulated environment.

Perhaps changing the world isn’t necessarily on your agenda, but joining a well-researched debate is what intrigues you about the Model United Nations? Then consider joining the National where you can go head-to-head in debates and speeches across the country in pulse-racing competitions with other high school students.

A man pointing at the laptop screen while a woman is taking down notes

During competitions, you will argue for or against a strong debatable issue in front of an audience. Categories range from world, policy, congressional, and public forum debate and the current topic for the national policy debate competition is criminal justice reform.

Prior topic areas range from debates about whether the US should withdraw from the Afghanistan peace process, and if the United States should end its economic sanctions against Venezuela, to subjects such as if the United States should replace means-tested welfare programs with a universal basic income. If you are the type of person who would typically be debating these types of subjects with families or friends during a meal, then the National might be the perfect community for you.

Members compete in competitions that draw on their speech and writing skills to develop commentaries, read dramatic monologues, craft original speeches, and present plays and short stories that are humorous or educational. You can view all competitions and events being held this year by the National and learn how to do things such as control time limits or speak more elegantly, from past debate and speech competitors.

Former Students of Model United Nations

Past alumni of the National include high school students like 17-year-old Wolf Cukier, who recently helped scientists discover a planet during an internship he secured with NASA shortly after winning at nationals. There’s also Joanna Bai, another finalist of the debate and speech competition who found the courage to speak up as an advocate for her friend with Down Syndrome by founding a non-profit called Special Musicians, a music program for kids with disabilities to express themselves through music.

Or Saskia Reford, whose debate team lost two members due to suicide, so she convinced other teams to use money that would normally be given for trophies to support mental health programs in high schools. Even television superstar Jared Padalecki from Smallville and Gilmore Girls was a 1998 Champion of the National Speech and Debate Association Duo Interpretation competition.

No matter where these competitions take you, they will be sure to deepen your interest and curiosity in understanding what position you take on some of the world’s most challenging topics. Plus, competitions like these will make you a better communicator of your future goals when college essay and interview season comes around.

Benefits of joining Model United Nations

Now that you have a strong understanding of what Model United Nations is and what it means for current and former members, you may be interested in gaining a greater understanding of what it actually offers students who get involved through the experiences that it takes members down.

Without a doubt, joining highly competitive and established groups such as Model United Nations comes with a certain amount of prestige for students. However, that level of prestige is simply scratching the surface when it comes to what students get out of it. Let’s break down the top benefits of joining Model UN:

1. Students learn how to problem-solve as a member of a team. In Model UN, you act as a country representative in the United Nations, dealing with real problems like climate change, human rights, and international conflicts. This experience teaches you to think methodically, consider various perspectives, and negotiate with others to find common ground. These simulations boost your confidence in handling big issues. This confidence also helps you manage and solve everyday problems and anxieties.

2. Students gain worldly knowledge. As a delegate, you must research and analyze your assigned country’s foreign policy and global role. For example, representing Brazil in MUN means studying its participation in international organizations, stance on climate change, diplomatic relations, economic policies, and more.

Similarly, if you represent Japan, you would explore its technological advancements, post-WWII pacifist policies, regional security, disaster relief efforts, and balance between tradition and innovation. Through MUN, you engage more effectively in discussions, understand diverse viewpoints, and contribute thoughtfully to solving international challenges.

3. Students gain important analytical skills. When going from high school to college, students often are surprised by where the emphasis is when it comes to their learning. While memorizing and fact-gathering is often most important in high school, in-depth analysis becomes increasingly important in high school, grad school, and beyond. For that reason, students would be wise to consider the fact that Model UN prepares them for that analysis-heavy workload.

4. Students build confidence and public speaking skills. One major concern for children these days is that they are losing important opportunities to speak publicly and gain confidence in social situations. This is partially due to the fact that learning – and socializing – have become increasingly linked to technology. Luckily, Model UN serves as a great way for high school students to get out into the world, engage with students and grown-ups alike, and even get some important experience when it comes to presentation and public speaking.

Group of students walking to go to school.

5. Students learn about the power of negotiation. Diplomacy and negotiation are at the heart of Model UN. Just as one country will have to negotiate with another in order for both to be happy during Model UN, so too will a high school student one day have to negotiate with another individual, business, or other entity once they enter the professional world. Through Model UN, students will become much more knowledgeable and experienced in how to conduct negotiations between two groups in a mature and result-driven manner.

6. Students get an opportunity to lead. One of the most important things for students to do in high school when it comes to getting into the college or university of their dreams is to take on leadership roles. In Model United Nations, students literally role-play being a world leader and coming to agreements and compromises that will impact millions – if not billions – of human lives. That allows those students to continuously work on and improve their own leadership abilities.

7. Students get the chance to network with peers and mentors. Students who attend Model UN get access to an ideal way to network with and make friends with like-minded peers and potential mentors. During a Model UN event, students will be meeting with other delegates, senior delegates, judges, organizers, sponsors, and chairs of the given event. This can lead to a lot of new contacts that will want to keep in touch with one another long after the Model UN event ends.

two females talking to each other in a hallway

Final Thoughts

Joining Model United Nations brings many benefits that go well beyond just enjoying debates and diplomacy. It’s a great investment in your future, giving you the skills, knowledge, and confidence to succeed in a global environment. Through debates, research, and working together to solve problems, MUN participants learn a lot about world issues and how to handle complex situations. The experiences and connections you make in MUN can lead to exciting educational and career opportunities, making it a worthwhile activity for any student wanting to make a difference in their future. Join Model United Nations and start on the path to becoming a leader in your chosen field!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What skills can I develop by joining Model United Nations?

Joining MUN helps you enhance crucial skills such as diplomacy, negotiation, critical thinking, compromise, public speaking, writing, and research. These skills are invaluable for college interviews, professional settings, and many future career roles.

2. What are the benefits of participating in MUN conferences?

Participating in MUN conferences at locations like the UN Headquarters allows you to engage in discussions and negotiations on global issues, simulating a real UN environment. This exposure is beneficial for understanding international relations and developing a global perspective.

3. How often and where are national MUN conferences held?

National MUN conferences are held annually in multiple locations including New York City, Washington, D.C., and internationally in places like the Galápagos Islands. Specific dates and locations vary each year, offering flexibility and diverse experiences for participants.

4. Who typically attends MUN conferences?

MUN conferences attract over 5,000 students yearly and are staffed by UN Secretariat members and faculty from prestigious universities such as Harvard, Yale, and Georgetown. This provides a unique networking opportunity with knowledgeable professionals and like-minded students.

5. How can participating in MUN benefit my college applications?

Being part of MUN boosts your extracurricular profile and demonstrates your commitment to leadership, global issues, and teamwork. Such experiences are highly valued by top universities and can significantly enhance your college applications.

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