Kalamazoo College’s Model United Nations bussed to Chicago last week to compete in the University of Chicago’s twentieth international MUN conference. Hosted downtown at the Palmer House Hilton, ChoMUN XX provided delegations the thrill of debate, compromise, and political role-play.
The weekend commenced with speaker Anthony “Tony” Blinken, former Deputy Secretary of State and Deputy National Security Advisor under the Obama Administration, sharing insights about the future of global politics. Blinken spoke to delegates of 63 colleges on how the United States must engage itself internationally in this day and age. “We’re seeing power shift among, below and even beyond nation states. And that’s requiring governments to be responsible to a whole new cast of actors.”
“In this environment, governing, cooperating, exercising geopolitical influence is becoming increasingly difficult–even for a country like the United States,” Blinken explained. “As delegates and diplomats, it’s not enough these days to represent the United States,” nor is it “enough to engage other delegates.” Rather, Blinken suggests that it is more important than ever to embrace opposing beliefs instead of attempting to convert or persuade. “We need new young leaders with negotiating and diplomatic skills. That’s all of you,” said Blinken, gesturing to the hundreds of undergraduates sitting before him.
Following the opening ceremony, delegates divided themselves into a multitude of committees, where they took on the personas of historical characters for the weekend. The majority of committees followed historical events such as the 19th century fight for women’s suffrage in the United Kingdom, the legendary 6th century court of King Arthur, the downfall of Pan American Airlines, and the 1945 creation of the United Nations itself.
Click to read about KMUN’s experience at last year’s ChoMUN XIX.
While committee topics differed, all followed a somewhat unconventional format for Model United Nations. This “crisis” format regularly presents delegates with crises that they must solve, often under a time constraint. Delegates attempt to pass resolutions to these issues before the next “crisis update”, which can often become very creative. K delegate Ethan Van Sant ‘19 commented, “Heading into ChoMUN, I wasn’t quite sure where creativity would find a role in a room full of procedures and placards. Turns out a crisis committee is 100% built around creativity! The format allowed for me to build love arcs, dastardly plots, and alliances that affected the way our committee unfolded. I only finally understood what I could do with my role near the end of the conference. Next ChoMUN I’ll be ready with my thinking cap already on!”
The format allowed for me to build love arcs, dastardly plots, and alliances that affected the way our committee unfolded.
This year’s conference proved a success according to Kalamazoo MUN President Ailih Weeldreyer ‘19. “Our biggest accomplishment was that we met our goal for the number of K participants and that everyone had a good time in their committees. The highlight for me personally was seeing how a conference of ChoMUN’s size functions behind-the-scenes, learning how the staff responds to feedback, and gaining more confidence in committee.”
The Kalamazoo College MUN delegates look forward to closing the year with weekly practice sessions every Wednesday at 9PM.