Throughout my MUN career, I’ve had the privilege of attending numerous conferences across Canada and the United States. And for the most part, the conferences are long-established, with years of tradition and precedence behind them. At my own school, our conferences are more than 20 years old, with decades of experience and insight shaping everything from training staff to planning committees. However, those conferences stem from the ideas of one person.
In May 2012, Howie Ko opened assembly to a large group of delegates as not only the Secretary-General, but as the founder of the Canada International Model United Nations Conference (CAIMUN). Originally from West Vancouver BC, Howie became involved with Model UN in grade 9 and began attending local, national, and international conferences. Vancouver has a well-established local circuit, but it is customary for many of the more competitive teams to travel across Canada, to the USA, and even to Europe to attend large-scale, internationally-focused conferences.
The way Howie described it to me was,
“I started wondering, why travel so far when there could be an international MUN conference right here in our backyard?”
With Vancouver being an international city, Howie saw no reason why students from Vancouver should need to travel when they already live in such an international, diverse, and multi-cultural city. Howie began forming his ideas in grade 10, and by [insert picture of Howie] his grade 11 year had compiled a 40-page prospectus of his ideas to start the first internationally-focused high school conference in British Columbia. He began gathering root-funding, recruiting secretariat members, and organizing a conference from the ground up. With 3000 hours of work behind him, Howie opened the first session of Canada International Model United Nations in May 25th 2012, to over 450 delegates and staff from 6 different countries.
Howie’s passion, dedication, and commitment epitomize what is key to achieving success in organizing conferences. A few key insights stood out, especially relevant to not only organizing a conference, but to success in MUN in general
Genuine passion is essential – during our interview, I could not help but be a bit in awe of how passionate Howie was about his dream bring visions into reality. He kept coming back to it, stating that “with passion, anything is possible – it’s real, it’s not a cliché, it will work for all the innovators who want to start something… if you have commitment that parallels your passion, than anything is possible”
Have a specific goal and target in mind – Howie’s goal was to create an internationally-focused, innovative conference Every action, from having an international Secretariat to introducing new procedural methods in committee, was made according to the specific mandate of “globally innovative.”
Rely on your network – Model UN fosters relationships that transcend those weekend conferences – those relationships are crucial to building a strong team and a strong conference.
Form a strong basis of support – Howie kept reiterating the importance of his Secretariat, staff, and family for all their help and support; he emphasized that the conference would never have happened if not for such dedicated, passionate, and professional Secretariat and staff.
Be prepared to commit – For anyone wishing to start their own conference or undertake a project, the ability to commit fully will prove to be one of the most challenging aspects.
Now an undergraduate student at Duke University very far from his native Vancouver, Howie sits as the CEO of CAIMUN, but has passed on responsibilities to the current secretariat of CAIMUN 2013. Just as all those college conferences I attend are well-established, so has Howie provided the foundation for what is to be a long-lasting staple conference on the Vancouver, and perhaps, an international circuit.
Canada International Model United Nations (CAIMUN) 2013 is taking place from May 24-26 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Founded on the basis of ex visu ad virum: bringing visions into reality, CAIMUN is continuing to innovate at levels unprecedented within the global MUN realm. Last year, CAIMUN introduced a position paper policy that brought critical thinking to replace the stagnant lackluster researching routine. CAIMUN experimented with a novel debate procedure that inherently made deliberations more efficient. CAIMUN became a conference renowned for its integrity, passion, and conviction – with creativity present in every shape and form. This year, CAIMUN is growing and transforming to the next level, reaching heights that will astound all those who attend.CAIMUN is an international conference – cultures from around the globe will coalesce to exchange their wisdom and judgments on issues across the board, and connect to form networks of youth striving for global progress. Three days spent at CAIMUN will be the most rewarding field trip one could ask for. Wherever you are from – be it Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, or North America – be part of a legacy and join an unforgettable experience. Challenge your mind, and most importantly, challenge your heart. This is CAIMUN 2013 – innovation on an international scale.