Quality control: ‘Model United Nations offer more than bonfires, concerts’

Published: January 17, 2012

Held for the first time in 2004, the LUMUN is amongst the largest student conference in Pakistan.

LAHORE: 

Model United Nations (MUN) are now being held at every other private educational institute, but are we following its true spirit, asked Farah Masood speaking with The Express Tribune on the growing number of MUNs being held in the city which are attracting hundreds of delegations of young individuals.

Masood, who is the vice president of the Debating Society of Pakistan, said most students lacked the exposure needed to enrich their public speaking skills. MUNs are now being held at City School, Lahore Grammar School, Forman Christian College and Salamat International Campus for Advanced Studies besides the Lahore University of Sciences and Management.

She said there was a need to revive its true spirit. “MUNs do offer students a huge learning opportunity,” she said adding “but in the current rat race we have somehow lost that.” She said that the focus had now shifted towards the social events. Masood said that though she understood the need for social events at MUNs, that should not define the event.

“Children must understand that MUNs offer so much more than just bonfires and concerts,” she said.

Affaan Sherwani, the president of the Lahore School of Economics MUNs team, said that though the frequency of MUNs was increasing, the quality of debating was declining. Having participated in more than 15 MUNs, both domestic and international, Sherwani believes the ‘social mingling’ has stolen the event’s debating thunder.

Having represented Pakistan at several World MUNs, Sherwani said delegates from other nations were more serious and competitive. He said teams abroad focused more on learning than on winning the competition.

However, Sherwani said a MUN was still a great experience. “It’s not just about world politics and global issues,” he said “it’s also about improving your diplomatic and negotiating skills.” LUMS Model United Nations (LUMUN) 2012 was Sherwani’s last domestic MUN. LSE hopes to hold a MUN this summer.

With some 800 delegations participating in the event this year, LUMUN ended on January 13 last week at the Lahore University of Management and Sciences. Held for the first time in 2004, the LUMUN is amongst the largest student conference in Pakistan.

Amna Abbas, secretary general of LUMUN 2012, claimed that the event had focused on the quality of debating.

“While we do try to make our social events as fun as possible, it is not at the cost of debating’” she said. Abbas said despite there being several MUNs in the city, the debating skills of the students had not improved. “Smaller conferences are a good start,” she said adding “but they should also focus on quality.”

“When you have social events at a student conference, you have to make an extra effort to make the committee sessions more interesting,” Abbas said adding that sessions at LUMUN were made attractive by inviting guest speakers and ambassadors.

“The basic purpose is to help people interact before getting down to business said Umar Sahi, a member of a participating team.  A third year student of social sciences, Sahi said the social events help create a better understanding amongst participants. Though social events might have taken away some of the focus from the sessions at MUNs, Sahi believes they are still true to its spirit. “I am looking forward to participating in more MUNs in Pakistan.”

Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2012.

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