From February 12-15, 2015, the Georgetown International Relations Association hosted the 52nd iteration of the North American Invitational Model United Nations (NAIMUN). Held in the nation’s capital, NAIMUN brought together over 3,000 delegates to participate in 38 committees.
There was a recurring theme this year of staffers sharing their “NAIMUN Story” and the conference even shared some of the stories of schools and alumni from other years. Given this theme, we thought it would be appropriate to share three stories that Best Delegate Co-Founder Kevin Felix Chan and I encountered while liveblogging at NAIMUN LII this year: the Conference Story, the Philanthropy Story, and the Alumni Story.
The Conference Story
The conference kicked off with a keynote address by Terry Davidson, who shared his experiences as a Foreign Service Officer for the State Department and Diplomat in Residence for the DC Metro Region, and provided delegates with insights on how to become involved in Foreign or Civil Service.
To prepare delegates for the upcoming committee sessions, members of the NAIMUN staff hosted workshops on the basics of Parliamentary Procedure catered to delegates new to the Model UN scene and those who wanted a refresher course on the subject.
While the weather outside was frightfully freezing, debate was heated within the walls of the Washington Hilton. In addition to its trademark small, fast-paced crisis committees, NAIMUN also featured a variety of committee experiences, ranging from General Assemblies to ECOSOCs to bodies of the United States National Security Apparatus. Throughout the weekend, delegates grappled with economic, social, and security issues of the past, present, and future in committees such as the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494), De Beers Diamond Company (1902), the Scottish Constitutional Convention (2015), and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The excitement continued as Friday night edged into Saturday morning, when delegates in select committees were presented with a special “Midnight Crisis.” Over the course of the weekend, delegates were also privy to a variety of in-committee speakers, such as Anthony Arend, Director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service Program at Georgetown University, who spoke to the Legal Assembly.
Outside of committee, the conference offered an array of unique programming activities based on the opportunities afforded by the Washington, D.C. region. On Friday morning, delegates were given the chance to participate in embassy briefings, government agency tours, and tours of Georgetown’s campus, followed by a College Information Panel.
The Philanthropy Story
In true NAIMUN tradition, the conference partnered with a philanthropic organization in order to promote social awareness and action. This year, the selected organization was Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres). Delegates learned about engaging in social justice through a special Doctors Without Borders presentation on Friday and competed throughout the conference to see which committee could raise the most money for the cause.
NAIMUN is the most prolific Model UN conference in the world when it comes to fundraising for charity and usually aims to raise $20,000. Pierre Steenblik, the Director of Philanthropy, shared some insights into what made NAIMUN Philanthropy successful. Pierre said that NAIMUN participants “Learn how to create change in the world for the better. Charity is the best way for us to change the world while we are still learning.” They chose Doctors Without Borders this year because they are not only “cost effective, transparent, effective in the field, and organized” but that the Georgetown students involved with the conference have an “appreciation for what they do.”
NAIMUN encouraged the humanitarian aspects when it came to getting delegates interested in donating. They had Sophia Delaunay, Executive Director of Doctors Without Borders, speak about her amazing experiences in the field. It helped delegates put visuals to the problems like malnutrition, war, and diseases. But the staff also had fun with it, most notably with several of them getting pied in the face on Sunday session as a reward for their committee reaching a certain goal. Overall, it was a huge motivation by NAIMUN staffers and delegates to contribute because they feel like they have enacted change in the world.
The Best Delegate Alumni Story
One of the most amazing experiences about visiting Model UN conferences around the country — and in fact, around the world — is that we encounter student alumni of the Model United Nations Institutes that our Best Delegate team teaches over the summer. However, NAIMUN LII was special because it was by far the most alumni we had ever seen at a single conference — there were at least 20 alumni participating at this conference!
It’s really amazing seeing these students from the past three summers grow up to become leaders. Several of the alumni formed their own independent team and traveled to this conference so that they could participate since their schools did not attend the conference. Several alumni won awards, including a few Best Delegate gavels. I found out that one of the alumni had recently been accepted to attending Georgetown University. And two alumni are now Georgetown students and on the staffing side of NAIMUN! We’re incredibly proud of all the alumni who continue to do great things at NAIMUN and beyond!
Back to the Conference Story
The weekend was rounded out by a selection of social events, including the popular Hilltop Madness—which featured performances by a host of Georgetown cultural, dance, and music groups—and the Delegate Dance on Valentine’s Day.
During Closing Ceremonies, Dr. Sam Potolicchio of Preparing Global Leaders Foundation — someone that multiple Georgetown students spoke very highly about — gave six pieces of advice on the skills Model UN students need to develop if they are going to step outside of a simulation and become leaders in the real, globalized, 21st-century world. They were:
- Think with empathetic curiosity
- Be a voracious learner
- Be presently present
- Display intellectual humility
- Find innovative solutions
- Have courage
As NAIMUN drew to a close, the following delegations were awarded for their efforts:
Best Large: West Windsor Plainsboro High School South
Outstanding Large: Dalton School
Best Small: Henry M. Gunn High School
Outstanding Small: Brunswick School
Best Delegate would like to thank the Secretariat of NAIMUN LII for their hospitality throughout our visit to the conference!