It so happens that my absolute favourite part of semester is those precious first few weeks. All that stationery shopping, sussing out those perfect subjects, re-embracing that coffee addiction, and going to uni everyday knowing that assessments are too far away to worry about. But this year, during week one I instead boarded a plane to attend, along with 2000 other university students from around the world, a WorldMUN conference in Vancouver, Canada. For those of you who have never heard of this mysterious acronym, WorldMUN stands for ‘World Model United Nations’, and the best way that I can describe it is a cross between a gigantic debate and diplomatic role playing with an emphasis on strategy.
What typically happens is that you dress up in a suit, come armed with a folder full of research material, and get to spend a week in a conference centre discussing serious international issues. For me, I spent the week pretending it’s 1884, and that I was a diplomat from the USA attending a conference in Berlin to discuss how to best colonise Africa. For those non-history majors out there, in the late 19th century, there was a ‘scramble for Africa’ when various European powers decided to divide up Africa amongst themselves and create powerful empires. Also, pretending its the 19th century means you get to embrace a very different mindset during the conference, one which would be considered frightfully paternalistic and racist today, but it’s all rather interesting.
However, what I love most about doing MUN, aside from all the wonderful friends that you end up making from around the world, is that fundamentally it is all a game of strategy. You see at the end of the conference you need to achieve a document describing what to do, which needs to be supported by a majority of countries. Hence you need to keep strategising: who are the most powerful players in the room, what do they want, which compromises could be achieved, when do you make impassioned speeches, when to hide your real intentions, what are people secretly plotting, who are your friends and who are your enemies, who do you need to threaten military action against and so forth, all of which I like to think is both fun and an excellent preparation for the world of business.
One particular evening I was at a ball in Whistler village, which is an adorable village near the ski fields, complete with lights in trees and snow. It was more fun than I expected it to be.