IEU Experience

09/04/2024

The IE Debate Club gives its members a chance to develop their debating skills in a real-world setting. We spoke to four students who took part in the recent UC3MUN conference to find out what they gained from the experience.

Members of the IE Debate Club had a taste of what working for the United Nations involves by participating in one of the world-famous Model United Nations (MUN) events. The club has a proud tradition of involvement in the annual circuit, even hosting IE University’s own MUN conference. However, this year’s event was not too far from home for our students. The Universidad Carlos III Model UN (UC3MUN), held in Madrid, has been running since 2008 and has established itself as an international benchmark. 

The event attracted students from various countries, institutions and academic programs, all united by their passion for debate and their interest in the inner workings of the UN. Four members of the IE Debate Club represented our university, forming a powerhouse delegation that left their mark. But what drew them to join the club in the first place?

Diverse paths to debating

For Bachelor in International Relations student Toby Tilley, from New Jersey, the answer was simple. “I heard about some friends that were doing it and thought it would be a fun experience,” he explains. 

In contrast, Pablo Mayoral, studying the Dual Degree in Business Administration & Data and Business Analytics, had previous debating experience. But he wanted to improve his skills while complementing his studies with topics he wouldn’t have covered otherwise. “When I heard about the IE Debate Club, I was thrilled and joined instantly,” he says. 

Dual Degree in Laws & International Relations student Raquel Vega discovered her interest in debating early in life: she formed her own speech and debate club while still in high school, but never had the opportunity to attend formal training. “So when I saw that IE University had a professional debate club, I instantly knew that I wanted to be part of it!” 

Their common interest in the United Nations is reflected by the fact that these students all have a global outlook. Even those who hadn’t previously traveled outside their home country speak more than one language. Raquel speaks English and French in addition to her native Spanish; Pablo is fluent in Spanish and English, with some Chinese; Toby has an intermediate knowledge of both Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, while Miguel Yu, a Dual Degree in Philosophy, Politics, Laws and Economics & Data and Business Analytics student, is proficient in an impressive four languages. “I speak English, Spanish, Catalan, both Mandarin and Wu Chinese, plus some German.” 

Time management, organization and preparation

Juggling learning with the training and preparation required for a MUN event can be challenging. However, all our delegates found it improved their time management skills. “It’s just a matter of organizing yourself,” Pablo states. “If you like debating, you’ll find a way to fit it in.” Raquel agrees: “It comes down to being well-organized and passionate about what you do.”

Their training sessions covered everything from public speaking to negotiation techniques. Afterward, the team took part in a miniMUN in which they competed to secure their spot in one of IE University’s official delegations. This was followed by further training along with other miniMUNs, ensuring that our delegates were fully prepared.

Raquel remembers the first time she attended a debate training session. Halfway through her speech, she realized her time was up and she hadn’t been able to make every point she wanted to. However, this spurred her on to improve her timing strategies—and her hard work paid off when it was time to take the stage at UC3MUN.

Top takeaways from UC3MUN 2024

What did our students learn from the conference? Pablo describes UC3MUN as “an amazing experience,” adding that he’s improved his confidence and skills in several areas, including public speaking. For Raquel, the highlight was meeting so many like-minded students who were passionate about politics and keen to make a difference in the world. “The mere chance to participate is a true accomplishment. I learned that in everything you do, you learn something valuable,” she says.

Our delegates agree that going to UC3MUN has improved their critical thinking abilities. As Raquel notes, by representing a country or topic in a MUN debate, “you form a much more rich and accurate conception of real-world problems.” 

Stepping into the shoes of decision-makers

For Pablo, the event has allowed him to visualize how different countries interact and the effects this has on the global economy. “It’s helped me to think critically about historical events, put myself in the shoes of decision-makers and see how each individual decision can have a huge impact on the world,” he says. His advice to future students is unequivocal: “I would recommend it to anyone interested in debating, international relations or just talking about interesting topics and meeting new people.” 

Raquel also encourages anyone passionate about politics, history, diplomacy or current affairs to give debating a go. She praises IE University’s flexibility in allowing students to balance their studies with such opportunities, noting that this is a significant differentiating factor from other institutions. “The university’s support enabled me to get involved in so many different clubs and societies while maintaining good grades.”