This is the first in a series of three articles spotlighting the Yale Model United Nations conference to show the new, innovative ways in which leading conference organizers are changing and developing Model UN. These series all aim to ask: what kind of takeaways can we learn from these big conferences so that readers can learn, expand and improve their own conferences? This “behind-the-scenes” look at YMUN XL aims to show what it’s like to run a conference that showcases offerings beyond that of the typical committee experience, and is working to improve and innovate in the world of Model UN.
This article, written by Brady Currey of the YMUN XL team, focuses on how YMUN is working to develop global citizenship in its delegates, through initiatives like guest speakers, novel debate topics, and the Global Exchange program.
In just over a month, nearly 1400 delegates will descend on the city of New Haven to participate in YMUN XL. Only a small fraction will leave with formal recognition of their work in or out of committee. But a piece of paper isn’t the point of attending a conference like YMUN. The true goal of a conference – something we on the secretariat continuously aspire to achieve – is to provide a chance for delegates to learn about they relate to the community and world around them. Global citizenship begins with self-knowledge.
This vision drives the theme for this year’s conference: Think Globally, Act Locally. When we think about Model UN conferences, we often only focus on the committee room. Isolated in hotels or classrooms, we operate in terms of clinical policy and politics, divorced from the emotional realities of the issues we debate. But topics like gender equality or water management are just as pressing in the towns and cities where we hold our conferences as they are on the international scale we lift them to.
This renewed emphasis on the community outside of the conference is part of what makes this year’s YMUN so special. Besides dramatically expanding our conference to offer seven new committees dedicated entirely to regional issues around the world, we’re incorporating high-profile guest speakers in all of our committees to help relate the topic at hand to the challenges we face in our daily lives. Some committees will even get the chance to hear from people who have first-hand experience with the parallels between their topics and the social justice challenges facing the city of New Haven.
We’re doing all this because YMUN is, at its core, an educational conference. This year, we’re tweaking our committee lineup to create a more engaging and compelling YMUN for delegates of all experience levels and interests. We’ve created three small, application-only committees to provide a top-tier competitive experience while rolling out enhanced delegate training materials and a training committee only for new delegates. And for truly passionate delegates, we’ve provided the opportunity to discuss the underpinnings of global citizenship with some of Yale’s most distinguished professors with the creation of our new Global Exchange program. We’ve also streamlined the delegate experience with a new emphasis on technology, creating a delegate portal to allow delegates and chairs to collaborate before the conference. We’re also rolling out an iOS app to give advisors and delegates the tools to stay completely up to date with all things YMUN. These enhancements – both minor and major – allow us to offer the experience of attending a conference to a much wider range of students while sharpening our educational focus.
So as we count down the days until opening ceremonies, we on the secretariat are incredibly excited to welcome you, both to YMUN XL and to the city of New Haven. Rather than simply providing a simulation, we want this year’s YMUN to showcase the reality of the social problems still lingering in our communities and the influence global issues have on the choices we make in our daily lives. And we know that everyone is going to leave the conference with something truly worthwhile.
YMUN XL takes place from January 23rd to 26th, 2014. For more information, visit their website.
All pictures are from the YMUN Facebook Page.