Can MUN Coaches Make a Difference? Interview with the Best Delegate Co-Founders in Taiwan

by Conna on October 23, 2013

This is a guest article from Carol Chen, a delegate at Taipei American School in Taiwan. The article original appeared at Blue and Gold Online

We all know that coaches maketh the team. But MUN coaches? Can they make a difference?

This week, delegates at Taipei American School Model United Nations (TASMUN) were coached by the best in the world.

Best Delegate is a website considered the bible for MUN delegates and its founders, Ryan Villanueva and Kevin Chan, gave master classes in research, resolution writing, lobbying, and public speaking over three days last week.

“It’s pretty interesting to learn from the MUN masters. All of the people from Best Delegate were very knowledgeable about MUN and just political science,” says Victor H. (Year 11)

TASMUN delegates participate in a workshop.

TASMUN delegates participate in a workshop.

Since Best Delegate was founded three years ago, both “masters” have taught MUN summer courses at Berkeley, Georgetown, and Yale and have trained thousands of middle school, high school, and university MUN delegates. Today, it has turned into a global education social enterprise dedicated to helping students to succeed in Model United Nations.

“The only place that we haven’t gone yet is Africa,” Mr. Chan says.

Before starting Best Delegate, Mr. Villanueva was working at Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street investment bank, and Mr Chan was working at AT&T, the largest telecom company in the world. So what led them to quit their jobs and start a MUN business that is completely fresh and new?
The answer is simple. For Mr. Chan, it is living the dream.

“Ideas are overrated. If you want to make things happen, you need to turn that idea into a service. We believe in lifestyle design. You think about the way you want to live, and finding something that you are passionate about and go for it,” he says.

But for Mr. Villanueva, it wasn’t until he has gone through the process of solitude and self-reflection did he realize what he truly wanted: to learn, create, and stand out. He started his own MUN blog in his college dorm, and later quit his job at Goldman Sachs.

As Mr. Chan says, “Creating an organization from scratch and playing in an industry that hasn’t existed is not easy because the obstacle is just there by default.”

Students discuss the best MUN strategies following a workshop.

Students discuss the best MUN strategies following a workshop.

Yet, as Mr. Villanueva says, “Meaningful reward requires meaningful risk.” For both of the co-founders, passion for MUN out-burns the obstacles that stand in their way, and Best Delegate offers the ideal synthesis of travel, food, and work.

But what’s more is the inspiration that they’ve gained from the students that they’ve taught. “It becomes really emotional and rewarding for us when we see that the students we’ve taught have become more mature adults,” Mr. Chan says.

For many TASMUN delegates, the three-day MUN sessions taught by Best Delegate here at TAS were really eye-opening.

“Their research and resolution-writing seminars are definitely going to help first-year delegates like me,” says Eric H. (Year 11).

Another student Eric L. (Year 10), who has participated MUN since freshman, comments, “They brought debate, sociability and public speaking together and helped me link my foundations. It was interesting and a great deal of fun!”

As for me, I’ve surely gained invaluable insights into MUN. But what I’ve taken away from the three-day sessions goes beyond this. In the end, I’ve gained a greater understanding of “social dynamics” and become more confident in speaking louder as well as dreaming bigger. My MUN career has only started, but I look forward to many more amazing experiences yet to come.

Mr. Chan offers encouragement to all students who are passionate about their dreams, “Let go and feel invincible. Be your best self and success will come to you.”

 

  • Seth

    This is the Taipei American School. Is there much participation in Model UN in other schools in Taiwan, seeing as Taiwan does not have UN membership?

    • http://bestdelegate.com/ Ryan Villanueva

      Yes! Other Taiwanese high schools participate in MUN and National Taiwan University hosts the university-level Pan Asia MUN (http://panasiamun.com/) at Taipei 101. KFC and I were pleasantly surprised to learn how rapidly MUN is growing in Taiwan. And I don’t think UN membership status is correlated with the popularity of MUN. Case in point: right before going to Taiwan, I was teaching MUN in Palestine!

      • Seth

        Wow! I wouldn’t have guessed!

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