Why to participate in Model UN?
The main event of the second day of PMDF days was a mock version of a Model UN, hosted by the United Nations Student Club. It was a fun exercise familiarizing students with how a Model UN works and enabling them to decide if they would like to participate in a real Model UN session held on May 25-26 in VDU small hall (https://www.facebook.com/events/1725060061074262/ – Facebook page of Kaunas International UN Model event).
The topic of the event was War in Syria. For 2 hours Lithuanian and international students became representatives of US, Turkey, Syria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, Israel, Iraq and Canada.
Olivia Wells is an American student at the Department of regional studies, enrolled into Bachelor’s program International politics and development studies. As a president of the United Nations Student Club Olivia kindly agreed to answer a few questions:
Why did you choose this particular topic?
Because it is really relevant, and the actual Model UN will be particularly about the refugee crisis. Today we were talking about the war, but I’ve worked with a lot of humanitarian groups, so the topic is close to me, and I plan to write my thesis on it. I think it is important to see if students from all over the world can try to find a solution to this, when our leaders are failing to.
Was it the main goal of this event?
The main goal was just to give students a taste of how it works and acquaint them with the rules, which I think, can be quite difficult, like not referring to yourself, but it’s quite fun when you get into it, and also to sort of prepare people to participate in the official one.
Was it successful, in your opinion? What would you like to improve?
To be honest, I would have liked to see more people. It is always a struggle to get people to come, and even if they come, it’s like pulling teeth to get them to actually participate. For example, I don’t know much about France, and I just jumped in, so anyone can do this. Especially politics students should have some ideas, so we haven’t really figured out how to reach out for students.
Why? How do you think? There were a lot of students on the Facebook page of the event…
Exactly! It’s mainly with Lithuanian students, to be honest. The international students are the ones that are mostly coming and more active. Even in the classroom Lithuanian students are really quiet and shy and they don’t speak up for themselves. Now, after living in this country for a while, I understand that it’s the post-soviet mentality in many ways. I mean, we did have some Lithuanians here, so slowly, slowly… But it seems that if something is not required at the university, they won’t do it. In this kind of event, if they have to do something more, like reading this paper, they won’t do it. They prefer to sit and watch. We are going to the individual classes, saying that it will help them in public speaking and it looks good on the resume. This argument would work with students in the US, but here it doesn’t have the same effect, so this is the most difficult thing about all these events.
Was faculty administration supportive?
Yes, they were really great, I cannot complain. They are great in a sense that they say “whatever we need”. The thing that is a bit weird, we’ve had problems with, is that something like a Model UN is a big deal, so you’d think in other universities normally the whole school gets behind it and promote it, and the head of the school would come and talk, and here it’s only our faculty that is really behind it. So our faculty is really great, but the school as a whole… I asked if the head of the school could come and talk at this Model UN, and the woman I was speaking with said that he probably won’t, but when I said that US ambassador is coming, she said “okay”.
Did you just want to see the reaction?
No, the ambassador is probably coming. I talked to her assistant today. Also I asked university to make a post on the FirstClass, as a pop-out, and they also said “No, you can’t do it”.
Was today a rehearsal for the official Model UN in the end of the month?
Yes. This was a good thing to get people to talk and interact. And since we are doing an official one it made sense. Okay, not a lot of people came, but now three more people signed up for the other one, so it’s really good.
Do you expect more people in the end of May?
Yes, but the thing is, I still suspect, that most people will just come to watch. We’ll have probably about 20 people, but it should be more like 30-40, that would be ideal. I guarantee you there will be more people sitting in the back, than here participating. It is hard for me to understand. Why wouldn’t you participate?
Interview by Anton Chernetskyi (student of the Faculty of Political science and Diplomacy).