Diversity, inclusion, and equity are not routinely erected as pillars to a pantheon of free speech. No, this pairing is more often split into caricatures of polar-opposite political camps, with members of the former mincing words and dodging microaggressions, and those in the latter expressing themselves through epic tweets and F*** Trudeau bumper stickers. But that old beef shall be squashed Friday night as student-delegates representing 29 nations sit down, collaborate, and duke it out over the worldâ€™s most pressing issues. Itâ€™s UPEIâ€™s first annual Model United Nations Conference, a platform for a bona fide diversity of thought, and a surefire way to get your adrenaline pumping into the weekend.
â€œIt takes your subject and opens it up to the world,â€ says Mohamed Ateeq, President of UPEIâ€™s Model United Nations (MUN) Debate club. He was once a student of medicine in Malaysia before dropping out and following a knack for debate. From the microscope to the microphone. What prompted such a masterful pirouette? Ateeq was seeking a new perspective on what he was studying, so he zoomed out, saw how health care and other domestic policies looked on the international stage, and ultimately found what he was looking for with MUN. But he wasnâ€™t an overnight success.
â€œMy first five MUNs, I just sat in the committee without saying a word,â€ Ateeq says. Instead, he took notes and observed with a keen eye, analyzing othersâ€™ performance. So he encourages anyone, even if you arenâ€™t comfortable getting into debates with strangers, to join and at least be a fly on the wall. At a MUN debate, sometimes, an analytical mind can best a zealous cry.
Krishna Thaker is the VP of this operation and says that MUN has been a force for good in her life. â€œ[MUN] was the first ever event in my life that got me out of stage frightâ€¦ I was the shy kid. [MUN] changed me completely.â€ Thaker continues to find comfort and purpose in debating topics that hit close to home, such as child labour in the Congo.
The MUN event is a two-day conference, beginning with opening ceremonies on Friday, Jan. 27, at 4pm in McMillan Hall and moving to McDougall for the conferences. More information is available at @upeidmc on Instagram.
â€œThereâ€™s a wide range of flexibility for different talents,â€ says Thaker. While registering, debaters can choose a committee based on their major; for example, an environmental science student might choose climate change, while a business student might go for the economic crisis. There is truly something for everyone, even typewriting chumps like me on the International Press committee.
â€œYou need to know your material,â€ says Dana Chatterjee, secretary of the MUN club. She had some sage words for first-time debaters. Good communication and practice are vital to a smooth victory, and alliances are not out of the question, either. But while representing Russia, good luck trying to cozy up next to the home of the brave.
Dos and Don’ts
- Stay in yoâ€™ lane! â€“ work within the boundaries of your country, its policies, and its stakeholders.
- Maintain diplomacy â€“ keep it civil. Know your country’s position and stand by it.
- Cooperate â€“ donâ€™t make it personal. Attack the idea, not the person, and propose a better alternative.
- Be human â€“ donâ€™t stick to the script. Adapt to what comes up from your opponents.
What can people take away from MUN?
“Wanting to debate more,” says Chatterjee.
â€œI want people to have funâ€¦ to come out of the MUN and be like, â€˜Damn, what an experience!'” says Thaker.
Â Â Â Healthy disagreements are hard to come by these days, and a day may come when they cease to exist at all. But it is not this day. So come one, come all, free thinkers, dogmatists, and dog-lovers, as all minds should open to the true gravity of global issues and learn respect and humility in the face of those with whom we may not see eye to eye.