Everyone on this campus is either a part of Alma College’s Model United Nations team, or knows someone who is. With Alma College being a small, liberal arts college, it is rather impressive that our team is both nationally and internationally recognized. I mean, come on, the team was a Jeopardy! clue. That’s legendary status in my book.
This team rightfully deserves the recognition it receives, especially when considering 49 outstanding delegation awards from the national Model UN conference, 55 from the Midwest conference, and 25 years of receiving top national honors. This is no doubt an aspect of Alma College to be proud of. All this recognition and reward, of course, has a cost: hard work and more.
“Apart from the obvious extreme work ethic, perseverance, and speaking skills that you acquire in MUN, there are so many opportunities that open up to you. We get to hear about scholarships, excursions, internships, and more,” said an anonymous source.
“I know so many students that realized the path they want to take with their careers or general futures through Model UN and what we derive from meaningful volunteer work and advocacy,” said the anonymous source.
“There are costs for MUN, such as four suits for conferences, food if you have to go out to eat late after Tuesday practices, and binders with tabs, notes and dividers, [along with] the printing credit to print hundreds if not thousands of pages to fill the binders,” said the source. “It would be nice to know these costs beforehand, or to just get a rough estimate of all of the things we will be buying before the start of the season. I know I’ve personally had issues with not having the immediate funds to buy the printing credit I need.”
“College policy used to allow all students unlimited printing at no cost. When that policy was changed, it applied (and continues to apply) to MUN students as well,” said Dr. Derick Hulme, who has stood at the helm of the MUN program since 1992.
Despite the demanding workload, “we’re doing it because we believe it’s worth it. Regardless, I know we all sacrifice a lot ofmeals and sleep and maybe a couple other grades once in a while in order to satisfy the requirements of MUN. I’m sure most of us sometimes question what else we could be putting that effort towards, like mental and physical health, hobbies, other classes, extracurriculars, etc. It’s, of course, not the right decision foreveryone,”saidthesource.
These difficulties, if overcome, can open the door to prestigious opportunities. When asked about the outomes of those who have gone through MUN, Hulme said, “Model UN offers students both an appreciation for global affairs and the opportunity to develop critical life skills, including research, public speaking, and collaboration. It also strengthens resilience, adaptability, and personal accountability.”
“Model UN studentshave gone on to the finest law schools, graduate schools, and medical schools in the world, including Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Cambridge, Oxford, and Johns Hopkins. They also have won over $2 million worth of nationally competitive scholarships, including the Gates-Cambridge, Fulbright, Truman, and Udall.”
Another source, who wishes to remain anonymous, shared their thoughts. “Due to the pandemic, formal recruitment was sparse, thereby not giving students a bigger picture of what they would be getting into,” said the source.
In 2020, the national conference was canceled 15 days before students were to go to New York, which devastated graduating students. In 2021, both the Midwest and national conference were online, where Alma’s team traveled to Chicago to participate. The 2022 conferences required participants to wear masks, while the 2023 conferences will return to pre-pandemic protocols.
“After your first year, it’s a completely different experience, and I can agree that it is worthwhile. There are parts I actually enjoy, like public speaking and mentoring. But there is a lot of unnecessary pressure,” said the source.
“Our team is among our largest and most diverse to date. We have 43 students, including students from 9 countries other than the US, from Russia, India, South Korea, Tunisia, Morocco, Poland, Greece, Kosovo, and Britain. That has increased our emphasis on mentoring first time participants,” said Hulme.
“It sucks, it’s the worst experience ever. At the same time, it’s rewarding and there’s a collective trauma you go through,” said the source.
“The opportunity to interact with people from around the world and understanding different viewpoints [is my favorite part of MUN],” said Aditya Shankar (’24). “The least favorite part is probably only going to 2 conferences.” Shankar has been involved with Model UN as a whole for over 6 years.
“[The best advice I’ve received from Dr. Hulme is] ‘Whenever you think you are not performing well or that you are not reaching expectations, take a moment, breathe and think about the various things you have accomplished’, said Shankar.
To answer my previously mentioned question, I would say yes, being on the Alma College MUN team does have a price. With a class syllabus that boasts about the workload by equating it to the “price of excellence”, it is rather apparent to me that you have to be one motivated individual to join this amazing team. I am proud of the accomplishments that the team continues to bring home every year. However, it is easy to get caught up in the glory of success by telling your well-being to shove off.