The IE University Debate Club has reached new heights, yet again. Made up of nine IE University students, the club was given the opportunity to represent the university at the most prestigious Model UN simulation in the world. IE Debate Club president, Elizabeth Sánchez Chang, shares her experience at HNMUM and the future of the club.
Since the inception of the IE Debate Club, our vision was to become one of the most inclusive and active communities at IE University, and send internationally competitive collegiate debate teams around the world. After a few years, we were awarded Best Professional Club and Most Adaptable Club, and now have over 1,000 members across both campuses.
However, November 9, 2021 was the day I opened an email that said, “I am delighted to inform you that your delegation has been accepted as a participant for HNMUN 2022.” And with that I knew we were not only finally beginning the battle to be the best, but also starting a legacy at IE University which had never been done before.
¨We were not only finally beginning the battle to be the best, but also starting a legacy at IE University which had never been done before.¨
The Harvard National Model United Nations or HNMUN is the world’s oldest, most competitive, and prestigious Model United Nations conference. Located in Boston, Massachusetts, it took place this year from February 10 to 13, 2022. Every year, top students from around the world come to Boston for a week to simulate UN committees—such as the UN Security Council—and act as delegates of specific countries.
They represent their interests, engage in debate, and reach resolutions on specific topics related to the committee. What had been just a description on their website was now materializing right before our eyes, and thus began our journey as a sponsored IE University delegation. The entire delegation comprised nine IE University students:
- Elizabeth Sanchez Chang (Head Delegate) in Economic Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)
- Juan Manuel Marquez and Mehrunnisa Chaudhry in Special Political and Decolonization Committee (SPECPOL)
- Isabella Miller in the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
- Cassidy Lapp and Antoine Brimbal in the The Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC)
- Olivier Baeten and Montserrat Cuetos de Prado in The Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee (SOCHUM)
- Adam Rose in the Futuristic General Assembly (FGA).
The preparation, challenges and triumphs
For several weeks leading up to the conference itself, our team met numerous times with our coach and advisor Kevin Febres for training. We practiced perfecting our speeches, preparing our diplomatic strategies and considering what to do in unexpected situations. Our whole delegation represented Thailand in our respective committees, so our duty as delegates was to be the best representative of the country’s interests. We sought resolutions with clauses in our favor, while simultaneously solving a common issue.
Despite a lot of training, and some delegates having previous experience in MUNs, we knew challenges would lie ahead and that we had to be ready for anything. The biggest challenge was adapting to constantly changing settings in committees. Within an hour, committees could collapse into complete disarray, with delegates creating groups or leaving groups and creating division of interests. All this for the sake of finding a common solution for the international community … easier said than done.
Even for a simulation, there were many moments where we felt as if one wrong decision truly decided the future of our countries. However, amid the chaos we made sure to meet every day for breaks, to practice speeches, discuss what happened in our committees, give each other advice and even play IE Monopoly—yes it exists, and yes, it’s the best thing ever! Although we somehow always ended up talking about committee sessions again.
After days of representing Thailand on issues such as the proliferation of drones, cryptocurrencies and declining population dynamics, resolutions were passed and committee sessions closed. Time had passed so quickly; from waking up at 6 a.m. in order to be lobbying by 7 a.m., and ending sessions at 10 p.m., we were now sitting in the assembly hall, where awards would be given out.
Hard work pays off
We won not one but three awards, as a first-time delegation attending the most competitive MUN in the world:
- Elizabeth Sanchez Chang (Head Delegate): Diplomatic Commendation in the Economic Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)
- Juan Manuel Marquez and Mehrunnisa Chaudhry: Outstanding Delegate in Special Political and Decolonization Committee (SPECPOL)
- Isabella Miller: Honorable Mention in the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
I could see the sheer joy and excitement through our team’s exhausted faces. They had put everything into the week, and I couldn’t have been prouder of all our work over the months leading up to this moment. Immediately after the closing ceremony we braved the Boston snow and went to celebrate in a little brunch place tucked away in a local library. Our celebratory meal felt like the first in weeks, and soon enough we were all packing our bags to come back home with our awards and experience in hand.
¨They had put everything into the week, and I couldn’t have been prouder of all our work over the months leading up to this moment¨
Looking back, I’m confident to say that, although I enjoyed debating and talking with like-minded students from around the world and delving into topics of international importance, I most enjoyed going with our team. Bonding with both friends I had known for years, and new debate club members I had barely met, really tied together the HNMUN experience. And I felt immense pride as IE Debate Club president, to have finally come so much closer to the vision we had for our club from its foundation.
So, what’s next? You!
We’re coming back to HNMUN next year with an even bigger delegation! We will also be going to several other large debate competitions and conferences like the ones we attended this year. We have our eyes on the Geneva International Model United Nations and the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos Model United Nations, for example.
For students interested in representing our university at conferences and competitions like these, the IE Debate Club training program is a requirement to join. Our next training program will start in September of the 2022–2023 semester. At the Debate Club we’re always looking to grow our community and to become a better international competitor in many styles of debate. So join us, be a part of our family and the IE University legacy.
¨We’re always looking to grow our community and to become a better international competitor in many styles of debate.¨
Finally, a special shoutout to Campus Life, IE School of Global Public Affairs, Student Government and our coach/advisor Kevin Febres for their continuous support through sponsorships, advice and even lifelong lessons. Thank you again for helping our club push its limits and create a long-lasting legacy for the IE Community!
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