This blog was written by student Etienne Phillips, class of 2019.
The Franklin School of Innovation 2019 MUNCH Delegation – 39 students strong!
Model United Nations or, as the cool kids call it, “MUN,” is a simulated united nations conference where all of the countries or people are played by students, and the committees are organized and run by university students. These conferences happen all over the country and even the world. The one FSI students have attended since I started coming here in 2015 is MUN Chapel Hill, which has an even better acronym: “MUNCH.” Your goal is to work cooperatively with the other 50 to 100 students in your committee to come up with solutions to world problems. Depending on which committee you chose (or were assigned), you may be addressing epidemics in the World Health Organization (WHO), working towards global nuclear disarmament in the Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC). As you can tell, acronyms are aplenty.
Now, knowing only that information about MUN, what I’m going to say next might confuse you: I would consider the experiences and memories I made at the MUN conference are the best in my high school experience. I always say when introducing MUN to people that sitting in a room for upwards of 8 hours a day from morning till sunset talking about global political issues while effectively roleplaying as a person from a country you might not have ever heard of is nowhere near as boring as it sounds. In my first year, I barely even participated — overwhelmed by the dozens of other students who were all far more prepared and well-spoken than I was, I mostly just sat and listened. Yet the commitment these students have to the conference is simply incredible, and, if nothing else, infectious.
I still remember the first time I spoke in front of my committee. That year, my partner and I were the delegation from Spain in DISEC, and we were discussing issues surrounding cybersecurity. I’ll never forget that moment getting in front of all those people and making an argument for why global restrictions on the internet were not the solution to cyber-security problems. Having only words to convey this experience does it a great disservice because that one minute of my life was so instrumental to my character.
I am today, a great public speaker. In my subsequent years I played Mitt Romney in a presidential cabinet simulation, a feudal lord in 1500s Japan, and a member in a simulation of CReEP — the Committee for the Re-Election of the President — for Nixon and was instrumental in Watergate. In all of these committees, I was more and more able to contribute to planning and actively involved in the committee. Again, I feel restricted by words as there is no way for me to describe concisely the way these experiences affected me, but suffice it to say that I got much more out of these committees than just the fun I had discussing global or national politics (or instigating Watergate — that was probably the most fun I had).