This is a guest article provided by Jerry Guo from the IMUNA Board of Directors.
Staffers from the International Model United Nations Association recently returned from Rome, Italy, where they staffed the second Italian Model United Nations conference, held January 15-18, 2013. It was IMUNA’s second year supporting the conference, in partnership with United Network, an Italian non-profit that brings Model UN to 60 Italian secondary schools, reaching 800 delegates. IMUNA is a non-profit organization that sponsors the National High School Model United Nations, Regional High School Model United Nations, and Southern United States Model United Nations conferences. With an all-volunteer staff of over 100 and global reach, IMUNA is a leader in global issues education.
There were 13 committees and over 800 delegates at IMUN 2013. In addition to conference facilities around the Rome, the conference’s closing ceremonies were held at the global headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization. Special speakers at the conference included Alexandra McKnight, Political Affairs Adviser of the US Embassy in Italy, Ambassador Stefano Stefanini, International Affairs Adviser to the President of the Italian Republic, Prof. Umberto Gentiloni, professor of contemporary history in University La Sapienza in Rome, and Marcela Villareal, Rector of Gender, Equity and Rural Employment at the FAO.
IMUNA Directors were paired with staff from United Network and divided the responsibilities of committee management. Committees were run in the IMUNA model – all in English, with emphasis on cooperation, consensus, and compromise. All committees passed resolutions that were then debated in a general plenary session on the final day at the FAO.
United Network became interested in this hybrid model of staffing their conference with their attendance at the NHSMUN conference. After seeing the quality of NHSMUN staff and the challenges their own students faced in attending North American conferences, United Network approached IMUNA to stand-up a training conference for United Network delegates attending or interested in attending NHSMUN. Intended to familiarize delegates with rules of procedure and research and preparation, the hope is to better prepare foreign delegates to interact with American delegates. For IMUNA, committee Directors receive more experience in facilitating committees – and in particular better understanding in catering to the needs of and integrating foreign delegates at IMUNA’s home conferences. Nick Stefanizzi, former NHSMUN Secretary-General and current IMUNA International Coordinator commented on the experience: “IMUN 2013 was a resounding success, and the IMUNA Board of Directors is incredibly proud of what our staff was able to accomplish in collaboration with United Network. This conference represents an important strategic opportunity to expand our global reach and expose more students to our unique simulation style and educational experience. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with United Network and continuing to promote global issues education through simulation together.”
Staff and delegates alike remarked on their experience at IMUN. Elettra Di Massa, a United Network staffer, helped co-direct the SOCHUM committee: “Being the Director of the Social, Cultural and Humanitarian Committee for this IMUN Conference has given me the chance to learn from and closely work with the IMUNA Staff. Directing a Committee was a completely new experience to me, and I am really glad that I was given this opportunity. The hard work of both, the IMUNA and United Network Staff, made IMUN 2013 a truly amazing and very constructive experience, and I am sure this is just the beginning of a long-lasting partnership.” IMUNA Secretary-General Max Ross and Director-General Jenn Tschetter remarked: “”It was the opportunity of a lifetime! We smile from ear to ear when thinking about the joy that came from the new IMUNA and United Network partnership. The conference was a resounding and fabulous success!
The IMUN model has been such a success that United Network has entertained requests from across Italy to run similar conferences. United Network and IMUNA are currently exploring the possibility of conferences in Naples and Sicily to complement the Rome conference. While they do not take away from IMUNA’s core focus on planning its North American conferences, they present a unique opportunity to reach a much wider audience.
Bonnie Pham, the current Director-General of NHSMUN remarked on her experiences in Rome: “As the IMUNA Director for SPECPOL, it was an absolute honor to work closely with the IMUN Director and Assistant Director, Costanza Cicero and Luca Medichini. The delegates showed unwavering enthusiasm and passion about the topic. Since all of the students were preparing to go to HMUN or NHSMUN, we took the opportunity to teach the delegates about the rules of procedure and resolution writing. By the end of IMUN, SPECPOL delegates had mastered committee operations, and I have no doubt that they will excel in future conferences. I am very excited to see the long lasting relationships and friendships made at IMUN 2013 continue into the future!”
The International Model United Nations Association (IMUNA) is dedicated to educating young people about global issues through simulation. IMUNA hosts three annual Model United Nations simulations in the United States reaching over 4,000 high school students. For more information about IMUN, or other IMUNA programming, please contact Jerry Guo at firstname.lastname@example.org.