Model UN was never my vibe. Something about the polished packs of smartly dressed high school students migrating across college campuses for a weekend seemed…wrong. They were put together, and I most certainly was not.
I was awkward in a crowd and they blended seamlessly. I preferred to live in ignorant bliss and they had personal subscriptions to the New York Times which they actually read. Looking back on it, I joined MUN not out of interest but out of spite.
I was always like this: the second someone told me I couldn’t do something I would try my best to. From math to leaping off a very high cliff, it was my preferred method. So, when a suit-wearing, briefcase-carrier asserted that I, braces and all, would be eaten alive I immediately signed up. Not for one moment have I regretted it.
Spite was not the only reason I joined the club though. If you swipe away the political exterior and scrub away the suits, Model UN bears a remarkable resemblance to theatre, my first and strongest love. Both activities involve portraying a role, a character or a country. Both rely on memorized text and impromptu speeches. Both are a performance. While MUNs audience is more often than not overachieving college students, fundamentally that’s what they are. They allow me to tackle ideas unfamiliar and personal in new and exciting ways and have fundamentally changed who I am.
Leaping Back into the Ring
A moment that stands out to me occurred during my second conference. I was fresh off of the thrill of the first day. I didn’t stumble during my speeches, I formed a bloc, and only one person tried to snake me. By MUN standards it had gone remarkably well. But, as they say, what comes up must come down and that dip manifested in an ill fated group chat.
A group of twenty-five preppy teenagers, who I didn’t even know that well, called me “soulless” (among other less appropriate things) for removing them from the sponsors (writers) list (I didn’t). This moment illustrates the dark side of activities like MUN. I’ve always found the paradoxical nature of competitive cooperation to be…interesting. Throw a group of hormonal high schoolers into the mix and you have the opportunity for important personal growth and absolute devastation.
Despite facing this kind of harrassment I picked myself up and ventured forward. MUN is something I love and I wasn’t going to let anyone take that away from me. I feel like that message is certainly true to Putney. Not everyone is going to be nice and not everything will go your way, but the best thing you can do when confronted with failure is to pick yourself up and try again, try better. Even when crying in the hallways of a Best Western near Yale University, insomnia cookie in hand, I smoothed out my Target-brand pencil skirt, straightened my lanyard and leapt back into the ring.