After living in Spain, Oman, Kuwait, Belgium and Ghana, Javier Villegas recently added a visit to Switzerland to a personal journey that’s clearly taken him around the world
His Geneva stop-off came about when he joined the debate club, as they competed at the United Nations. Read on to find out more.
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Javi Villegas. I’m a first-year Bachelor in Business Administration student from Madrid, Spain. Although I’m Spanish, I’ve lived outside of Spain for most of my life.
Tell us about the debate club.
The debate club isn’t exclusively a MUN (Model United Nations) club; it consists of various different branches related to debate, of which the MUN club is a part. When I joined the club, I had to go to the training sessions, which prepare you for public speaking and cover essential communication and negotiation skills.
How was the United Nations?
The United Nations building itself is very large. It’s located in an enclosed area with multiple buildings, and is known as the “Palais des Nations.” The decoration and detail on the inside of the main building are extremely nice and elegant, so the environment we were in felt very professional. I was part of the legal committee, which addressed the topics of Space Colonization and Artificial intelligence from a legal point of view. Hence we focused on the legal implications of such topics. I was the “Chinese delegate,” which I enjoyed a lot, as my country is very involved in both topics, regardless of how controversial its views and actions are.
What did you learn from this experience?
MUN conferences always help you train and develop your public speaking skills, as they require a lot of improvisation. So if an individual were to participate a lot, it would significantly improve not only their communication skills but also their general knowledge of geopolitics. As a delegate you need to learn how to communicate with other delegates and work together with them, therefore cooperation is essential when it comes to MUN. All countries have allies and, in order to conclude a certain topic, delegates must reach a consensus on certain things that can benefit multiple nations. I think as a delegate who was part of such a complex committee as the legal committee, it helped me understand the importance of collaboration—especially when there are guidelines and laws that all delegates must abide by, such as international humanitarian law.
How does the debate club help you throughout this process?
With regard to GIMUN, everything was handled and organized by students. They organize everything from the flight tickets to the accommodation. I believe there should be more help from the university, especially since IE University performed exceptionally well in GIMUN, winning four honorable mentions and the best delegate award.
What was the most important highlight of this experience?
The places you travel to and the people you meet are always the highlights of the conference. Geneva is an amazing city, and we had so much fun living and learning about the city, as well as meeting students from different countries. Debating and being in a MUN conference is always fun and entertaining, but we definitely enjoyed the organized social events a lot, and met a lot of cool people.
How does it help you in your future, and how does the UN help for the future?
I personally think MUN improves your understanding of the geopolitical and legal world, and that can help a lot, especially if you’re a student who studies or is interested in politics, economics, law or international relations. One thing is studying it, but it is completely different when you use your knowledge to debate and defend your arguments. I study Bachelor in Business Administration, but when I was debating, I had to learn a lot about international law and use what I’d learned as a way to argue for my country’s views and interests. I believe that is a very efficient way of learning.
Regarding the future, my committee was a futuristic one, hence we were discussing futuristic topics. In doing so, it gave us an idea of the consequences of AI or space colonization, and how we can regulate it or even develop such topics in a way that‘s beneficial. Therefore, you’re essentially developing solutions and answers to situations that may have a huge impact on what’s ahead of us.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I feel the debate club is a great way to enjoy the university experience, and that’s why I believe it should be promoted much more. Things like absences or travel costs affect students’ decisions to actually join the debate club and participate in conferences such as GIMUN.