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Geena Lee: Putting the ‘Model’ into Model United Nations

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UBC chapter.

Meet Geena Lee, a second year Political Science major and Secretary General for the upcoming 2015 UBC Model United Nations (MUN) Conference.

For our readers new to the idea of UBC MUN, it’s an annual conference attracting around 300 students from various universities to partake in a UN simulation demonstrating debate, resolution building, and diplomacy. It is the largest MUN conference in the Pacific Northwest, a three-day event that takes place every January that takes an incredible amount of planning, coordination and above all, passion. I sat down with Geena this week to discuss her role as Secretary General, and how students can get involved.

Though Geena is clearly tired from a barrage of exams this week, the mention of UBC MUN changes her expression from one of exhaustion to evident excitement. UBC MUN is definitely her passion and she is not new to it. “I guess it’s been five years now that I’ve been involved,” she explains as we sit down to talk at the Point Grill. The MUN experience for her started when she was in high school. As a delegate, she traveled to various conferences establishing solid insight on how the UN operates, the challenge of resolutions, UN procedure, and the fast pace environment of a conference. When asked how many conferences “There have been so many, I’ve lost track,” she replies, initially starting to count on her fingers but then giving up.

UBC’s MUN conferences attract delegates from an array of universities in Canada and the United States. “Being a delegate was so exciting,” she recalls, “you meet so many new people and get introduced to a huge, but tight-knit community.” This community she describes as, “constantly growing, not just at UBC but all around Vancouver.”  It’s true, Geena’s Secretariat (the hosting committee) for the 2015 conference includes individuals from UBC, SFU and UVIC, a testament to the size of the conference and its growth over the years. “You meet people from all different faculties and universities. The conference is not just for IR or Political Science students, we get quite a few Science students signing up interested in representing the World Health Organization, or Business students in the IMF.

“There is something for everyone.”

Geena explains to me quickly how conferences typically work. Delegates are assigned countries after they register for the conference and represent that country according to its foreign policy in a number of committees predetermined before the conference. “ The ultimate goal of the the session is to draft, vote on, and pass a resolution on the topics as well as dealing with any crises that get simulated.” It’s kind of like a Diplomacy 101 course.

Geena’s transition from participant to organizer was quick once she came to UBC. “I kind of stumbled on the opportunity to become apart of the 2014 conference, and ended up loving it,” she says as we order our dinner. “I was the Director for the Commission on the Status of Women, which I found incredibly engaging, then this year I became the Secretary General,” Geena says casually, attempting to hide the countless hours of devotion and hard work put into her promotion.

When asked about her goals for the 2015 conference in her new position, Geena smiles. “We’d like to get a lot more UBC students out to the 2015 conference this year, there are always interesting committees that everyone can contribute to.” She adds, “if there is some issue important to you, chances are its has been discussed in the UN.”

Ways for students to get involved in both the planning and participation aspect are plentiful due to the sheer size of the conference.  Though the Secretariat has just started planning the Conference, updates can be found on the UBC MUN website, Twitter, and Facebook page.

Registration will open in October for delegates and the Conference will take place January 2015.