I first started doing Model UN 10 years ago as a high school freshman in California. At the time I was a very shy person, so my parents all but forced me to join my school’s program. It wasn’t until about my tenth conference later that year that I started feeling comfortable as a public speaker.
Californians may not find anything stunning about that statement, but for many MUNers in other parts of the country, attending 10 conferences ever is unheard of. Simply put, there are only a few regions that feature numerous local, affordable MUN conferences. In places like New York, Atlanta, or the Midwest, high schools that run their own conferences are the exception, not the rule.
When I look at MUN circuits without local options, I see two problems. First, there are no opportunities for new delegates to gain experience in a comfortable environment. I know countless students whose very first conference was a large travel conference such as NHSMUN or HNMUN. I love these conferences and worked at many of them, but they’re not great environments for first time MUNers, who may struggle to speak in front of a room of 20 much less 200. Furthermore, between travel, hotel, and conference costs, there are also steep cost barriers that prevent many students from attending more than 1-2 conferences per year.
The second problem is that students are missing out on countless opportunities to take on meaningful leadership roles, which can make for fantastic college resumes. Throughout high school, I evolved from a reserved student into a leader largely because of the conference that my high school ran. I was invested with responsibilities that forced me to rise to the occasion, and I still reflect on some of those formative experiences almost a decade later.
So what do we do? Addressing these problems is why I founded Education in Motion (EIM), a non-profit organization that helps MUN programs launch their own conferences. We do this by providing two services to new conferences:
- A Model UN Expert: EIM provides the conference with a Program Manager – someone who has experience leading conferences. This person visits the conference staff regularly to guide students through the entire process of preparing committees and recruiting schools.
- Financial Security: EIM also provides needed seed funding and guarantees all conference finances. If the conference isn’t profitable, EIM absorbs all of the losses. If the conference is profitable, EIM only keeps a portion of the conference profits to compensate the work of the MUN expert. The rest goes directly back into the school.
We know this works. On February 7-8, EIM held its first conference in Brooklyn, NY, at the High School for Enterprise, Business & Technology (it’s a mouthful that even its own students forget sometimes). After I met the students last May (serving as the Program Manager), we worked together for nine months to create WHISMUN, named in honor of their FA. With about 100 delegates from 5 local schools in attendance, the conference was an amazing success. Not only did it manage to create a small profit for the students, but we also received exceptional feedback from both the FAs and students, collectively giving the conference a rating of 4.4 out of 5! All this was achieved in WHISMUN’s first year.
Now that we have proven that the concept works, we’re looking to build on our successes and expand. We have a bold vision for a robust MUN circuit throughout the United States including affordable, local conferences that train students to participate at a high level at the major collegiate conferences that exist already.
To do this, we need your help. If you are a faculty adviser that believes your school is ready to run its own MUN conference, please e-mail us or apply today. We’re building significant capacity to host a number of new conferences in multiple cities next year.
If you are a college or graduated MUNer with conference experience, help us expand into your city by becoming an EIM Program Manager. You can provide a truly unique opportunity for local high school students in your city. The knowledge and experience you have cultivated for years can be shared with high school students to push them on their journey towards becoming leaders. If you’re interested, you can download an application from our website.
Even if you can’t donate your time, please consider making a donation to EIM. Your gift allows students to focus on learning and leading MUN rather than getting bogged down in fundraising.
I didn’t appreciate it enough at the time, but today I am so grateful for the fact that my community had a robust MUN circuit, which played a major role making me into the person I am today. EIM’s mission (and mine) is to bring that impact to students everywhere. I hope you’ll help us see through this vision.
EIM Board Chair