Advisors, delegates, parents, and friends,
My name is Jack Wroldsen, and I serve as the Secretary-General of MUNUM XXXIII. On behalf of our organization, I want to thank you for your continued dedication to our conference and welcome you to its thirty-third iteration from January 16-19, 2020. I can assure you this will be the best MUNUM yet, and I am excited to prepare for your arrival and participation next winter.
Earlier this year, a friend of mine who attends my old high school asked me, “what do you think Model UN has given you?” Since I was in the seventh grade, I have engaged in this activity. It has followed me from middle school, to high school, and now to college, where I still participate. My immediate response was to say Model UN has made me a better communicator and a better leader. After all, the value of Model UN in areas such as communication skills, problem solving, and critical thinking, and compromise is one of its defining characteristics. It explains why a generation of global leaders, including Ryan Seacrest, the King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, former Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon, and former American President Barack Obama, participated in Model UN in their early years. Students emerge from the activity with sharpened tools of debate and community-building, prepared to take on the ever-changing landscape of the twenty-first century.
However, the biggest value of Model UN is the one that is most often overlooked. As I sat and reflected on my friend’s question, I realized the nature of Model UN and why it differs from other forms of high school debate. “Model UN,” I replied, “has given me empathy.”
By representing unfamiliar countries or characters of history, we are forced to put ourselves in the shoes of another, analyze situations from their point of view, and come to understand why they make the decisions they make. When we do this, whether we represent the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Russian Federation, or France, we realize that our world is diverse, from its point of views to its history. We see that everyone brings something to the table. We recognize and celebrate our differences as humanity.
From representing a country and its stance on the destruction of cultural heritage sites, to attempting to write a constitution after rebellion, to fixing a broken country after a world war, MUNUM XXXIII will challenge its delegates and staff to recognize the importance of empathy in the past and present to better prepare for our future.
I look forward to seeing you in Ann Arbor in January, and as always, Go Blue!
Secretary-General, MUNUM XXXIII