Model United Nations (MUN), one of North’s most established and prominent clubs, consists of over 70 kids who are passionate about public speaking, international relations, and politics. Due to the new virtual instruction during this pandemic, MUN’s officers have been faced with numerous challenges that threaten the functionality of their club. Luckily Shaina Shah, the 2020-2021 school year Secretary General, has provided insight on how MUN has adapted to a virtual environment and future plans for the club in the new year.
Shah explains some of the main responsibilities include keeping the members & officers on the same page. Communicating informed goals, organizing logistics for productive events, and training members for growth and participation at conferences is crucial for this goal. To help students excel in their public speaking, officers bring select members of the club to travel to collegiate conferences across the country to compete in fierce debates and committees. In lieu of the global pandemic, however, these plans have changed drastically. The club members, unable to attend tryouts and conferences in person, have now turned to Zoom for their fall, winter, and spring seasons. “Memories at conferences have been my favorite part of high school,” Shah says as she reflects on the experience. ”It’s hard to replicate that at virtual conferences.” officers have also begun to worry that there will be an increased likelihood for members to implement bad habits, such as reading off pre-written speeches or using outside resources, during their mock tryouts. With students sitting behind a computer screen with easy accessibility to pre-written responses or research, it seems this year risks contradicts confidence and “off the cuff” speaking that makes MUN what it is. To help avoid this, officers have taken the initiative to upload advice material to Google Classroom, a new hub for club materials and information.
To maintain efficiency, the board has also dedicated more time to taking things slow and laying out the fundamentals of the club. With this school year greeting the group with an influx of freshmen, students who have never participated in conferences like the ones MUN is involved in, officers found it necessary to fully prepare them for when in-person activity returns. As the year progresses, the officers hope to strengthen their member’s key skills of researching, leadership, and speaking in order for their members to participate effectively in upcoming conference tryouts.
Currently the club has just finished their winter mock, an event that determines which members will be participating in the ILMUNC, PMUNC, and NAIMUN conferences being held in January and February. Similarly like past and upcoming conferences, North’s spring NorthMUNC conference is being planned as a virtual event as well.
“Honestly, I don’t know what next year holds,” Shah said. “However, I hope to create a close-knit community and leave the next generation of MUN delegates feeling confident for the next season.” Despite the many obstacles to overcome, both officers and members will continue to make an effort to fulfill the expectations and excitement that MUN brings, no matter what space it works in.