Recently at a Junior Statesmen of America conference, I was able to listen and meet the famous journalist, Joel Stein. Mr. Stein came to as the keynote speaker for the closing ceremony and he briefly talked about his life and his journey to become as successful as he is today.
While talking about his high school career, Stein mentioned that he did Model United Nations in high school, rather than JSA. After hearing of such news, I was immediately amazed as Joel Stein has accomplished so much in his life, writing for the Los Angeles Times as well as being an avid contributor to Time Magazine.
I was able to interview Mr. Stein and ask him a few questions on how his Model United Nations experience helped him throughout his journey to have a successful life.
1) How did you find out about Model United Nations in high school?
It was pretty big in my high school, at least with the nerds. That was partly because it was the only group – besides sports and music – that got to go on trips. I tried out in 9th grade and didn’t get accepted. But I did in 10th grade.
2) Did you ever think you would use the tricks and trades of MUN in real life? And if so, in what ways are you finding yourself doing so?
Public speaking is hugely useful. That’s the main thing for sure. I also still know more about the United Nations than most people, but that doesn’t come up all that much. But I do know about global conflicts – many of which go on for decades. Angola, Mozambique, Iran/Iraq, Kashmir – this regional stuff from the late 1980s underlies so much of what’s going on today, and I have some understanding of the history behind it. I know who Pol Pot and Jonas Savimbi are through Model U.N., which helps me be obnoxious in conversation.
3) Do you recommend current high school students to participate in MUN?
Yes! You get to go to a hotel for a weekend with other smart teenagers, some of whom – shockingly – are good looking. No kids get to go to a hotel with other teenagers. They only trust nerds with that. And you can abuse it.
4) Any interesting MUN story that has stuck with you throughout your life?
Many. But probably not printable.
As far as printable ones, I remember being Secretary General of the Hershey United Nations and going from room to room reading Top Ten Lists. I really loved David Letterman.