What is M.U.N ?

by Jacob Gill

What is the M.U.N. (Model United Nations)? In short it is an extracurricular activity headed by the American Studies (AS) 2 teacher Mrs. Jennifer Byrne, meant to incite an interest in international affairs and cultural-social discrepancies. Meeting on most Fridays in Byrne’s classroom, the MUN team struggles to both understand and empathize -at least at a logical level- with many of  these governmental structures about this world. Not merely expanding their geopolitical knowledge, but also those of rhetoric, debate, even compromise. A skill this generation needs in abundance.

Mrs. Byrne added: “Well, it is a simulation of the actual United Nations. Students represent a certain country in solving a problem. They have to stick to what their nation would do, not what they would do…They have to adopt the perspective of a different person.”

Junior Ashley Bingham, a veteran of the MUN community, put it thusly when asked about the subject, “It is a chance for students to critically think about the problems in the world today and create viable solutions applicable to this generation.”

A matter which, as Dillan Moore, a fellow junior, chimed in, is a lot “like international LARPing.” (LARPing is Live Action Role Playing)

In general, both parties presented the basics of the MUN sphere. Students research, develop and write position papers based on the attitudes of their chosen nation and then congregate with their peers to discuss and debate these policies in an accurate, diplomatic environment. In turn, two main events dominate the MUN focus: JHUMUNC (Johns Hopkins University Model United Nations Conference) and HCMUNC (Hood College Model United Nations Conference.)

Mrs. Byrne mentioned how much each of these two events cost financially, indicating that while JHUMUNC generally costs between one hundred fifty and two hundred twenty dollars per person (monetary aid is available,) Hood College is completely free on the student side. FCPS and Hood cover the payments for the staff as an ongoing effort to provide extracurricular opportunities to the upcoming generation.

It seems to be a fairly good deal, considering that one can acquire multiple thousands of dollars’ worth of scholarships and personally meet with both local governmental figures and esteemed politicians at both. Yet, save for the odd announcement remarking how one delegate or another managed to acquire an award or passed a resolution -whatever that means to the general, uninformed audience- MUN goes surprisingly unnoticed. In fact, most would not have even believed the club existed.

“In mock trial the focus is on the school, in MUN it is on you,” said Andrew Murray, proffering his personal explanation of the phenomena to me the other day. In mock trial you work as a team, you spend time practicing together as Andrew elaborated. But as he said, “In MUN you are given the assignment, you figure it out and then you justify it.”

The theory is intriguing, though one thing is certain. The recluse MUN deserves its time in the spotlight. To finish up with the same question here that was asked originally: what is MUN?

Ashley paused for a moment after the end of her description, and then made one last point which deserves to be noted:“An opportunity to practice making a difference in the world.”

Perhaps that is the best answer of them all.