Model UN Tips from Burr and Burton Academy

by Conna Walsh on October 27, 2017

This guest article was provided by Tobias Lepecki, a senior at Burr and Burton Academy, in Manchester, VT. When Tobias isn’t doing MUN, he is designing flags or listening to podcasts.

In Vermont, the second least populated state in the U.S., in Manchester, a small village known for its shopping outlets and its only very recently acquired Starbucks, sits a school with about 700 students. Most of its sports are Division II, most of its students know each other by name, and over 30% of its students qualify for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program. It is a small, independent, rural high school called Burr and Burton Academy. It is my school. It is also one of the best schools for Model UN in the country. BBA, as it is known, has won multiple Delegation Awards in the past years at conferences such as BOSMUN, ILMUNC, and NHSMUN, and is on track to continue to do so again.

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But what made BBA such a fighting force on the international MUN stage? A bit of a leading question perhaps, but bear with me. As the head delegate of BBA’s MUN team, I did not create these methods of MUN, but I do my best to foster them in our team, and I hope to show other teams how they can become accomplished. In the tried and true tradition of internet listicles, here are Tobi’s Top Three Tips for MUN Success:

1. Don’t Write Speeches

Seriously, don’t. If you write a speech, you’ll want to look at it. It’s natural, you’re nervous, and you’re human, so you will, and if you’re looking down, no one will look at you. You sound much more like you know what you’re talking about, even if it’s garbage, when you have enough confidence to not be holding a piece of paper. No one on our MUN team is allowed to write speeches.

2. Create a Scenarios Playbook

Like it or not, most MUN committees run in very similar ways. Often examining the background guide and your own past experience can help to determine which specific ways your committee is going to run. In crisis committees this is particularly important. You should have a plan of your ultimate goals, which you should be working towards the entire committee, so that the crisis room can sit back at the end of a conference and see that you had a linear, logical progression. This can also be useful in GA committees. How will you handle power delegates? How will you get less engaged delegates to care about the topic? There are multiple different methods to handle these scenarios, but you should decide and asses how you will do so before you start the first day of a conference. Everyone on the BBA team goes in with a plan they’ve had checked by at least one other team member.

3. Be Nice

The first conference I ever went to I was scared senseless. I was in a Cuban Missile Joint Crisis Committee and even with all the training in the world nothing can prepare you for the feeling of impending nuclear disaster. There were plenty of delegates in that room who knew that I was scared, and tried to take advantage of me, but there was one kid who was incredibly nice and genuine to me and all the other newbies. He ended up gaveling but he was so nice that there was none of the usual sting that comes with a loss. If you treat people in conferences as people first, and delegates second, not even the most commanding power delegates in the world can make people stop wanting to work with you.

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Those are just a few of the methods Burr and Burton employs to create a winning MUN team, since there are too many to list in this article. But they do all share one common theme: anyone can do them. You don’t have to have vast resources or rigid delegate hierarchies or laminated folders to be good at MUN – you just need hard work and dedication.

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