“A sense of confidence, independence, logic, diplomacy, and empathy,” said Daniel Flynn, a faculty member and the Model United Nations (MUN) coordinator at IST, outlining the characteristics his MUN students attain from being in the programme. “For students that stay in the programme from Grade 6 onwards there is an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and pride when they graduate from IST.”
What is the Model United Nations (MUN) programme?
MUN is a fully student-led extra-curricular programme that includes many IST students, as well as students all over the world.
“A pivotal part of MUN other than meeting new, diverse and inspiring people, is the breadth and depth of new global knowledge that I am exposed to,” said 17-year-old IST student and MUN member Joon. “It makes me feel more involved and aware of the urgent issues around the world rather than [being] uneducated and helpless.”
The group holds simulations within schools to seek resolutions to global problems through discussion, negotiation and debate, with students representing different countries and inhabiting both that nation’s point of view and their priorities.
For IST, MUN is a full programme, one that provides leadership roles to both High School and Middle School members. Roles include Secretary Generals, Head of Conferences and Head of Admin, to name a few.
“Students are chosen through a rigorous selection process in which they must demonstrate their knowledge of MUN and leadership abilities,” Flynn said. “The student leadership then plans out lessons for each week, which they are expected to lead and evaluate themselves after the fact.”
What students think about the MUN programme at IST
In addition to leadership and a sense of responsibility, MUN also teaches students about human rights, the environment, economic development, disarmament, refugees, peace and war.
“From my MUN journey, I have learned that we are not too young, or too weak to have a positive impact on the world,” Joon said.
Through debate, students learn to research, to adopt different views and attitudes and gather an understanding of the world’s problems. Students learn about international cooperation, rather than narrow-minded, national self interest.
According to 18-year-old IST student Vijay, MUN also teaches students how to be strong leaders.
“I have learned the skill of collaboration and leadership through MUN,” Vijay said. “I have been able to grow as a leader in my school, learning how to interact with people of different age groups and understanding the importance of not only being an assertive leader, but also one that people feel comfortable in approaching.”
In 2010, IST started a local inter-school MUN conference called Dar Model United Nations conference (DARMUN), which runs annually.
“My favorite part of MUN are the conferences themselves, there is nothing quite like them. Attending a large conference, where you are [able] to mingle with and collaborate with new people who come from different parts of the world, all trying to achieve a common goal, that is a very unique atmosphere to be in,” Vijay said.
With the conference and the research needed to be successful in MUN, it can be hard to manage time properly with the rigorous IB Programme.
“It is certainly quite a load of work when one is an active part of the MUN programme; however, what one must realize is that academics and MUN often go hand in hand,” Vijay stated. “Taking measures that are aimed to improve myself academically, often help me with my MUN skills as well.”
According to Vijay, though it is at times difficult, MUN has taught him excellent time management; a skill he will carry throughout university and his career; these sentiments were echoed by Joon.
Both Vijay and Joon agree, MUN offers exceptional benefits to the students and they feel that when they leave IST, they will be more equipped for a successful future thanks to their time in MUN.
According to Flynn, the MUN programme also strengthens students’ chances of getting into an exceptional university.
“Students will use this for their CV of course,” Flynn said. “I think that they will use their experience to present themselves in a professional, well spoken, diplomatic fashion to all universities they apply to.”
When asked if the students had anything to add, Joon was quick to promote MUN membership.
“To those who are thinking about joining the extra-curricular, do so. It is an amazing way to explore your own strengths, develop your weaknesses and work with so many new diverse people. It will not only keep you informed but provide you with a medium to stand up, take action and create change.”