Recently I took part in an international MUN (Model United Nations) conference representing our school in Bangkok, Thailand for the annual IASAS (Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools) conference. Personally, this was my very first MUN conference overseas and my first full stop. This trip possibly had the steepest learning curve I’ve ever experienced because of this. Unfortunately, this was one of the first times in my life that I came to realize my own ‘fragility’ through bad periods of anxiety throughout the trip, struggling to find the ability to speak as well as my confidence, which is normally one of my strong personality aspects. In addition to this, seeing it was my first conference I did not really know any technical procedures of conferences, how speeches and resolutions were meant to be formatted, and the preparation needed to have your voice heard throughout the three days of debating.
A few months after this, I have since grown drastically in both my mental health, the importance of research and preparation, and started an interest in international relations.
The slippery slope of bad anxiety was possibly at it’s worst in Bangkok because of the overwhelming knowledge I lacked which was amplified because of how much I knew that I didn’t know anything I did need to know. However, since then I have managed to learn from the experience, now knowing things that I can do to calm myself down like limit big meals and snack more often, also spending time with friends and getting into the activities like debating and resolution discussions got my mind off of it and helped.
I learnt the importance of research and preparation when two of the girls in my council came with 14 pages of resolutions each, whereas I was not aware that coming with that would help myself and my group. In the end, we combined both resolutions, yet I felt that I hadn’t contributed much nor learnt a lot as I wasn’t extremely involved with the creation of the resolutions or the combination of the two. From here I’ve wanted to take parts in activities, even when I didn’t have the prior knowledge, so that if/when I take part in similar activities in the future I can at least get involved and when I gain enough knowledge lead the team with the combination or create a resolution myself.
Finally, I found an interest that had the opportunity to shape my life, for better or for worse. Prior to this trip, I didn’t care for international relations as I felt I wasn’t aware enough to discuss global issues and solutions to them. However, after sitting in the general assembly I started to enjoy debates and ideas that were flying around left, right and center. The entire idea of multiple bodies with their own interests working together to come up with resolutions and ideas to better themselves is one that fascinates me as it seems to unusual for it to occur, but massive treaties and resolutions are created, both in MUN and the UN, that every country agrees on. I am so interested in this, I am currently looking at double degrees in ‘Economics’, my primary interest, and ‘International Relations’ or ‘Politics’.
If I were to do the experience again I would try and involve myself, no matter how anxious or worried I am. I think that the practice of putting myself out of my comfort zone would help me in both advancing my skills, taking advantage of the steep learning curve, as well as helping me overcome my anxiety as I would soon learn it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was, and that people didn’t care or notice how inexperienced I was, as proof by telling someone it was my first conference and him replying, “Oh really? You don’t seem nervous or amateurish at all.”
Currently, going into my last year of school, I am not done with MUN nor learning from new experiences, whether about myself or new ideas for the future, in school and out.