Each year the School of Politics and International Relations allocates funds to help undergraduate and MA students engage in activities beneficial for their intellectual and personal development. Such activities may vary considerably but they must have some direct bearing on their studies. Students have, for example, received financial support to conduct fieldwork for their dissertations, undertake internships and voluntary work, study foreign languages, and take part in international aid projects. In this blog post recent International Relations graduate and student fund recipient Kristin Grostad tells us about her experience of taking part in the Harvard National Model United Nations.
From the 13th to the 17th of February 2013 I travelled with a delegation of fellow students from the Nottingham Model United Nations society to Boston, US where we represented our university at the fifty-ninth session of the Harvard National Model United Nations (HNMUN) conference. The event lasted for 4 days and had over 3000 participants, making it the largest Model United Nations conference in the world.
With my co-delegate I was assigned to the Disarmament and International Security Committee (DAISEC) where we were given the choice between topic A: Targeted Killings, and topic B: Enforced Disappearances. During the first session the committee voted for the first topic and debate started. As this was my first Model United Nations conference, I was sometimes overwhelmed by the process, and the proficiency of many of the delegates present. For instance, I had not expected the speed of the debate and process of working papers and draft resolution writing. During the first hour of debate people started sending notes and gathering outside to talk, find equally minded people and start writing down ideas in working papers. Towards the second day it became clear who the major blocks were which made it possible on the third day to merge papers and ideas to create bigger blocks. As one of the few blocks who actually succeeded in merging with another block, we were able to gain wide support for our paper before it was presented to the committee as a draft resolution. In the final voting session, our paper was voted on and passed.
Before the trip we went through training sessions making sure everyone was informed about the rules of procedure and could ask any questions they had on the process and what to expect. There were a lot of experienced MUN-ers in our delegation, including my co-delegate in DAISEC, whom gave me advice and answered my questions. This was helpful as a lot of the people at the conference were experienced and driven in terms of winning awards for their universities. During the award-ceremony the bigger delegations from schools such as Yale, Harvard and many South American universities were the main award-winning bodies. HNMUN is definitely one of the most competitive MUN conferences, however I think this is what made it so interesting and rewarding.
Even though it was hard work, the conference was great fun and I enjoyed, and learned a lot from it. Harvard Model United Nations and MUN in general is a great way to meet people from all around the world, discuss international issues and practice your debating skills. Furthermore, it is a great way to gain an insight into the functions of the United Nations and therefore a great experience to have on your CV. I recommend it to everyone who is interested in having a fun, hectic and challenging experience.