At the Royal Hospital School, Model United Nations is a co-curricular club open to all year groups to help everyone understand current affairs and develop their public speaking; even if it is to try and declare 'war', though we advise against this for obvious reasons! So, what is Model United Nations? MUN is a staged debate that allocates every pupil delegate a country and a topic within a committee (for example the death penalty in Human Rights) to try and pass, amend or reject a resolution on behalf of the views of their country. But at RHS, sometimes we do things a bit differently to make it even more interesting...I'll get on to that later.
Firstly, why I enjoy MUN. I started MUN at the end of year 7 after having an introduction to it during the summer term. I immediately fell in love with MUN, as I got to learn new things about the world we live in and about key figures who make decisions that affect me. I've also always enjoyed public speaking through drama and debate, so this was a perfect opportunity to practice these skills further. Since then, I have attended many debates in school, and I have had the opportunity to participate in other external conferences. I am now the Secretariat General and help our designated leader, Mrs Routledge, run MUN. So if this isn't evidence of MUN allowing skills to develop, I don't know what is.
At school, we do mock debates every half term and training sessions on a Thursday after school to offer help to new delegates and to practice our skills; this might be resolution writing. However, last weekend was RHS' own conference, ROYMUN! The first day was serious debate ranging from WHO debating a response to Ebola outbreaks in Guinea and the Dominican Republic of Congo, to Human Rights debating combating racism in law enforcement. These topics allowed delegates to learn about recent issues (like the Myanmar crisis and the need to combat climate change), encouraging even the year 7's to engage in current affairs- it was incredible to see 11 year olds speak more intellectually than some of today's politicians! MUN is also great for meeting like-minded people from other schools, encouraging pupils to venture further than the RHS 'bubble', which is why for ROYMUN this weekend, we extended the invitation for our event to schools from all over the UK.
Although serious debate is important in MUN, the Royal Hospital School likes to break the norm, which is why ROYMUN is so special as on the second day committees changed to respond to 'the crises'...dun, dun, dun! We brought MUN to life by introducing issues such as the Hunger Games responding to children trafficking and Marvel characters wanting to get paid for their work, to the Harry Potter committee trying to stop dark wizards from revealing themselves to the muggles and the ROYMUN secret service aiming to dissolve Spectre. These committees were so fun as everyone let their creative juices flow as they took on the role of some of their favourite characters, even dressing up as characters from their theme. I was chairing the Hunger Games committee and highlights have got to include Gale wanting to burn down the Capitol, Cinna only 'assuming' he is unemployed despite the Hunger Games being no more and the reveal that Katniss was actually the ring leader behind the abduction of the children to make them child soldiers.
MUN is a great opportunity for anyone, as you get to decide how much, and when, you speak. It also allows each delegate to develop new skills such as public speaking, researching and thinking of quick solutions. I am so grateful for the opportunities Miss Routledge and the MUN team have given me and it is a club I would definitely recommend, the huge MUN flags and great snacks are also a benefit!
Don't take my word for it, here are some thoughts from my fellow MUNers on why they love our club:
"I believe that MUN gives me the opportunity to devise solutions to important and prevalent issues in the world which is incredibly empowering." - Ayoola Y11
"What I love about running MUN is seeing the quietest pupils bravely say their first Point of Information and watching them grow in confidence at each debate to the point that they are able to stand up and give an impassioned and completely spontaneous speech on, for example, the rights of women. I have so much admiration for the RHS delegates that really take their time to do their research properly, write a great resolution and create a witty speech and the dedication to thorough preparation really does show. Sometimes this is even done in a pupil's second or even third language, which is absolutely amazing! I look at some of our best MUNers now and remember them when they first started, nervous to speak in front of their peers, and I am so very proud of them."- Mrs Routledge, Teacher and MUN Lead
"MUN is the perfect opportunity to widen your perspective of global issues and understand different viewpoints on controversial issues. MUN helps you to learn how to argue your points, understand other peoples', all while maintaining decorum and respect; nothing could prepare you more for life. That being said, it's also just great fun!" - Toby Y11
"I joined MUN because I enjoy researching current political and economic affairs, this forms a large part of MUN but I also get the benefit of researching these factors from different perspectives and cultures. Because of this, I have been able to improve my understanding of different cultures and relations while developing necessary skills for public speaking." - Jason Y13
Written by Jaz Skingle, Royal Hospital School, Year 12