By Ana Ramic
The first time I heard of Model United Nations, I was 15 years old and watching a movie called “Winning London.” The film was about a very driven girl named Chloe who was the leader of her secondary school's Model UN team. After performing particularly well in a local competition, Chloe and her team are selected to attend an international Model UN competition in London. Drama, adventure and hilarity ensue, and naturally the team returns home victorious.
After watching the movie, I was thrilled to learn that Model UN actually exists — and not just in Hollywood. I found out that there is a real organization where kids my age could hold real debates, on real issues, while representing real countries. Not only that, but with Model UN, you could travel to international conferences and meet kids from all over the world!
I immediately set to learning as much as I could about Model UN and how I could get involved. After calling all the schools in my area, I learned that there were no local Model UN clubs … yet. So, I started one on my own — and so can you.
Here’s what you need to do to launch your own Model UN Club:
Get permission from your school to start a new club. It’s simple and easy. With just a little paperwork, you will be ready to go.
Find a teacher who will act as your adviser. My social studies teacher agreed, but you can ask any teacher. If you are unsure where to start, ask your principal for suggestions.
Recruit members. I created flyers about the new club and invited all those interested to attend an information session.
Decide when, where and how often to meet. We decided to meet once a week, after school, in our social studies classroom.
Get to know your teammates. Model UN requires teamwork. Getting to know each other better will make you a stronger team.
Contact other Model UN groups for advice. Invite students or teachers with Model UN experience to talk to your team and share what they have learned.
Get familiar with the organization. Check out the United Nations Association of the United States (UNA USA) website for information on all things Model UN (http://www.unausa.org/global-classrooms-model-un/how-to-participate/). You will also need to study up on the real United Nations. Their website (www.un.org) is a great place to start.
Discuss which conferences to attend. There are many factors to consider when deciding which conference to attend, including cost, travel distance, conference size and dates. Figure out what works best for your team.
Register your team. Write to the Secretary-General or contact person of your chosen Model UN conference to request registration forms.
Research your assigned country. Once you have registered for a conference, you will be assigned a country to represent. Research your country's history, culture, political structure and positions on current issues. Use as many resources as you can find: Look for information at your school, local library and online.
Know your allies and your opposition. You will need to collaborate with delegates from other countries to be as effective as possible at the conference. For each issue that will be debated, know which countries are most likely to agree with you and which are most likely to oppose you.
Review the rules. Each conference publishes a set of rules and procedures that are derived from those used by the UN. These rules, sometimes called “parliamentary procedure,” are designed to preserve majority rule, while still respecting the minority. Familiarize yourself with the rules before you go to the conference so that you can focus on the issues, not the process.
Make the most of it! After all the hard work of preparing for a conference, just relax, do your best, and have fun!
Originally from Bosnia, Ana Ramic, 26, lives in Chicago, where she is a program coordinator for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. She has previously worked for the British Consulate in Chicago, the U.S. Embassy in Athens, Greece, and the National Democratic Institute in Washington and Sarajevo, Bosnia.