Model United Nations is a student group that represents the University of Minnesota nationally in different debates, conferences, assemblies, and simulations. I contacted the Vice President, Andrea Ocando, to understand better what it is that Model UN does and how it works:
Q: What are your group’s goals?
A: The goal of Model UN is to promote knowledge and awareness of the United Nations and the international system and to provide a diverse atmosphere for learning and understanding the process of developing foreign policy.
Q: What is the group’s contribution to the U of M campus?
A: We provide a space in which people can learn about different situations happening around the world and discuss them in a diplomatic, safe space. Different opinions are always welcomed and there is room for different discussions. We also host our annual MinneMUN event in the spring, where students from the University of Minnesota, as well as other schools, can come and debate different topics and develop possible solutions to world problems.
Q: What can someone expect the meetings to be like?
A: Our meetings vary depending on the time of the year. During the fall semester, we focus a lot on training our new members on the rules and procedures for Model UN, sometimes doing mock sessions. Members who excel get to go to American Model United Nations, or AMUN, a conference in Chicago. In the spring, most of our meetings are centered around MinneMUN, the local conference, and we also host different events and simulations throughout the year. As part of being a student group, we are really interested in creating a community outside of meetings so we do a lot of social events to promote the community between members.
Q: Why did you decide to join Model UN?
A: I decided to join in the 9th grade of high school. I’m from Caracas, Venezuela, and Model UN back home was kind of a big deal. We had to go through a selection process that involved a test, interview and debate. My high school’s Model UN vision was that a different world cannot be created by indifferent people, so when I first learned of Model UN, I decided that I didn’t want to be indifferent to the things happening around me. I’m the type of person who is always concerned about the things happening around the world and who wants to be a driver for change for many of the current problems we face. I decided to continue with it during college simply because of the skills it gives me, like diplomacy, confidence in public speaking, research skills, knowing how to develop arguments, etc.
Q: What has been your favorite event or memory with Model UN?
A: My favorite memory was the conference in the Spring of 2017 that took place in Toronto, Canada. I remember that everyone was just together and having a really great time at this conference. A really good memory I have was that this was the first time that I have done an ad hoc committee, which means that you don’t get any information prior to the day of the conference. I was so nervous getting there because I had no idea what we were going to be discussing about. At the end of the day, I would say that it is one of my favorite committees so far since you just get the opportunity to strategize and think fast about your arguments and your position.
Q: What have you personally gained since joining Model UN?
A: I feel that I’ve gained a lot from joining Model UN. I’ve learned how to join strategically in order to make and strengthen my arguments, as well as come up with solutions for difficult problems. I’ve learned how to strategize my game plans, how to speak in public and not be afraid. One of the most important things I believe I’ve learned is how to respect the point of view of others and negotiate in order to reach a solution to different problems.
Q: What is the best way to contact the group and what upcoming events do you have?
A: The best way to contact us is through social media as United Nations Student Association, either on Facebook or Instagram. We also have our website, umnmodelun.com. We meet every Tuesday at 7:30, and our next event is MinneMUN VI, which takes place April 6th and 7th. Anyone can sign up, even if they have little to no background with Model UN. For more information and registration, you can visit our website.
Thank you Andrea, for taking the time to speak to Her Campus! Remember, a different world cannot be created by indifferent people!