CMC’s Model United Nations (MUN) Team had some pretty big shoes to fill at this year’s TrojanMUN Conference held last weekend (Oct. 29-Nov. 1). After all, last year CMC’s MUN team ranked 6th in the nation. CMC’s MUN team also won the “Best Delegation” designation at TrojanMUN last year.
“We won Best Large Delegation, which is the highest delegation award that each conference gives out,” says CMC MUN team member, Naina Mullick ‘17 “Additionally, a number of delegates won individual awards for their performance in committee.”
This year competition was stiff with TrojanMUN attracting a field of more than 300 delegates from Arizona, Kansas, Missouri and even a few from other countries.
Each year, TrojanMUN presents a mix of both traditional and crisis committees ranging from the historical, to the futuristic; the realistic to the fantastic, and more with each committee covering a different topic. Competing teams are evaluated on their ability to lead discussion, provide valuable insight, and create compromise, with individual delegates evaluated on their ability to produce a workable solution to a presented question while protecting their own country's interest in a diplomatic and collaborative manner.
One of the committees on which CMC MUN participated was the Crisis D'Octobre 1970 - Quebec Provincial House of Commons which dealt with the Quebecois Separatist Movement.
“We have a relatively young and inexperienced team this year because we had a larger incoming class, but I'd say that all members did a fantastic job and all were well prepared because of our training program,” Mullick says.
What could have been a stumbling block (the CMC MUN team’s youth and relative inexperience) was effectively neutralized early on by thorough preparation.
“We had an even more underclassman-heavy team at this conference than usual,” says Sean Sakaguchi ’16. “Almost 50% of our team was composed of individuals that we added this year. The fact that despite only receiving 3.5 weeks of training our team took the gold is entirely contingent on the performance and contribution of these new members and how well they managed to learn from our short but intensive training.
“We primarily prepare for committee by running simulations and drills of speeches and committee sessions,” says Mullick. “We try to strike a balance between practicing more MUN-specific things like parliamentary procedure and the structure of a conference as well as more substantive things like speeches and resolutions. We will typically meet once a week.”
Besides Mullick who is an Economics major with a Leadership sequence and acts as Treasurer of the CMC MUN team, other team members include; Sean Sakaguchi ’16 (President), Aviv Caspi ’16 (Vice President), Griffin Merians ’17 (Delegate Coordinator/Internal) and Christina Strahle ’16 (Delegate Coordinator/External).
According to Mullick, one of the key ways in which CMC MUN stands apart from other Model UN teams is that it does not draw exclusively International Relations majors. Most other teams chiefly look for students who hope to pursue careers in foreign service, but CMC team members range academically from Physics to Accounting to Philosophy to Math to Government, and everything in between. As a result, team meetings, training and simulations have pools of knowledge that can be accessed to creatively address pressing issues, as well as teach every member something new.
CMC MUN differs from other teams on the circuit by emphasizing a strategy of “death by kindness.” In a competition filled with teams that often depend on aggressive or cutthroat tactics to gain an advantage, CMC MUN prefers to stick with one of its core competencies – likability.
“Because we enjoy being the people who others want to work with, likeability is at the core of everything we do: our behavior both in and out of committee is constantly guided by the principle,” Says Mullick. “We call our team a family. From their first day on the team, our delegates are told that the team will always come first – period! We make sure to look out for our members and ensure that, whenever possible, we work together to achieve mutual benefit both in committee and in the real world. To us, that is the true meaning of teamwork.”
A deep and impressive array of skills that almost any CMC student would like to master on their ways to becoming a leader in their respective field are honed while competing in Model UN.
Although most MUN delegates never go on to work for the United Nations, the skills acquired in competition can judiciously apply to just about any work environment. Collaboration, friendliness and initiative are valued in any workplace, and the MUN provides a space for CMC students to learn and practice those skills.
“Because TrojanMUN is one of our two ‘all-team’ conferences, our whole team is usually able to come to the conference,” Mullick says. “Because of this, it's a great way to start off the year with some great bonding – especially for all of our new members. It was great to be able to get to know them better and see them all do so well in their respective committees.
“The competition is always something pretty daunting – we were up against some really great teams (especially since the conference grew this year),” she continues. “That being said, we try to minimize emphasis on awards and always emphasize working well with other teams, being good people in committee and being well prepared in order to fully understand and debate the issues.”
MUN members learn how to network, build and manage teams, speak memorably and clearly, navigate difficult dynamics, work under pressure in a collaborative environment and clearly analyze the scope of given problems. Alumni have utilized these skills in fields ranging from consulting to public policy to the tech world, and they have excelled among their peers in their ability to formulate and communicate good ideas.
“CMC students believe in learning for the sake of doing. That means taking lessons in the classroom and understanding where they fit in the modern world,” Mullick says. “Model UN gives students a chance to do exactly that, contextualizing important questions, then bringing the issues they learn about and discuss at conferences back to the classroom to enrich their academic experience with a fantastic feedback loop.”
According to Sakaguchi, TrojanMUN affords competing teams the opportunity to forge new connections and friendships that extend across the country and the world, help attendees develop skills in diplomacy and negotiation, all while representing CMC as an institution that produces the best of the best.
“Across the various committees, our members had the chance to produce budgets, from governments, write constitutions, simulate campaigns, and organize responses to contemporary issues such as Private Military Contractors (PMCs) and energy crises. But as anyone on the team will tell you, more important than any individual topic we covered this weekend were the bonds we formed as a team.”