Model United Nations existed as a concept in India since early 2000’s however, like many other extra-curricular activities, schools and students participate in Model UNs to compete, debate, and win.
While, there is no harm in competing for an award, the competitive spirit among delegates and schools often defeats the entire purpose behind an activity like a Model UN.
Model UNs, after a point became an activity for the elite with delegate fees rising, concepts of grand opening ceremonies and fancy socials taking over and everything but the quality of the debate becoming more important.
Our team got introduced to the concept of Model UNs in the year 2011. While there were a lot of apparent problems with the way Model UNs were being organised, it still had a lot of potential to turn into an activity that enhances students’ awareness, empathy, leadership, and other 21st-century skills. That’s when we decided to revamp the way Model UNs were being organised in Delhi and make this into a model for learning rather than for competing.
The inaugural Model UN under Brainwiz was organised in October 2011 at TERI University. The conference gave an opportunity to 250 school/college students to get together and discuss the issues around them. We got onboard organisations like the UN Information Centre for India and Bhutan, International Committee on the Red Cross, National Human Rights Commission, AROH Foundation etc. to give students ample exposure to the real world problems. Brainwiz has always believed in giving the right knowledge to students and hence we collaborated with DUREX to spread the word about sex education among students.
Over the course of two days, students discussed and debated over topics that ranged from transnational organised crimes, universal jurisdiction, creation of a new environmental organisation, freedom of religion to governance of Antarctica. The students were also made to interact with Dr. Sanjay Dubey(former Director at the NHRC), Dr. Rajiv Seth(the then Registrar at TERI University) and Dr. Sanoj Rajan(head of academic programs at ICRC). As a giveaway, students received copies of Geneva Convention, books from UNDP, and the United Nations Charter.
Every delegate who participated in the conference agreed that Brainwiz Model UN was one of the most sort after conferences that they had attended in Delhi and the increasing participation in the years to follow was a testimony to that.
Brainwiz Model UN grew bigger and better in the year 2012. With participant number increasing by 40% in just one year, we focussed more on 21st-century skills and henceforth, introduced the concept of online discussions before and after the Model UN Conference. Students participated widely in the facebook discussion groups and came better prepared for the conference.
Brainwiz collaborated with corporates like Wital-See Marketing Limited to give the students an exposure about the corporate world. We simulated special committees on SAARC and Tri-Sector Forum to discuss the rising numbers of urban dwellers and the growth and limitations of MPO. We also encouraged students to discuss the situations in Congo & Falkland Islands and cross border human trafficking. Students’ critical thinking and problem solving were tested in a crisis committee. We also simulated special joint crisis with the help of Mr. Peter Vrooman(the then Spokesperson at the US Embassy in India) and gave students a firsthand experience of using their skills of collaboration and communication to solve real life problems.
The US Embassy supported Brainwiz Model UN by providing literature printed at their in-house facility.
After experimenting with exclusive school committees in Brainwiz Model UN Conference 2012, we hosted Brainwiz Model UN Conference 2013 exclusively for school students. We have always believed in starting skill education in an early age and this one of its kind conference was our way of making Model UN Conferences more inclusive for school students, who often felt misplaced while competing with college students.
Mr. Walter T Douglas(the then Minister Counsellor for Public Affairs at the US Embassy) came onboard as the Secretary General for a one of its kind Model UN Conference that was hosted parallely in three different countries. The UN Students Associations of Bangladesh and Switzerland assisted Brainwiz in hosting Brainwiz Model UN Conference in their respective countries.
That year we focussed on students’ social and cross cultural, collaboration, communication and leadership skills and hence, invited a delegation of experienced Model UN personnel from Alma College, USA. Dr. Derek Hulme accompanied ten of his students and together they made Brainwiz Model UN 2013 an unforgettable experience for everyone.
We also focussed towards sensitising the participants about the deteriorating environment and hence collaborated with Global Water Partnership and India Water Partnership to simulate special committees that discussed water related issues.
The participation increased to 1000+ participants in Brainwiz Model UN 2013
Brainwiz Model UN Conference 2014 remains the most loved Model UN Conference both within the organising team of Brainwiz and among the participants. Being an exclusive school students’ conference, it attracted participation from all corners of the country and every participant left with a smile on their face.
To begin with, we collaborated with the UN Information Centre for India and Bhutan and hosted special training sessions for delegates at the UN House. While the students were given tips on how to participate and express themselves at an MUN, they were also exposed to the facilities at the UN Office. Mrs. Rineeta Naik(UNIC for India and Bhutan) interacted with the participants and gave them useful insights about the UN.
But the highlight of the Conference was individual feedback given to each participant after the conference and a special session hosted for all the participating faculty hosted jointly by Brainwiz and the UN Information Centre. Ms Sanjana Manaktala(UNIC) and Mr. Tarush Jain(Brainwiz) presided over that session and interacted with teachers about making Model UN Conferences better for kids.
Dr. RK Pachauri(the then Chairman at IPCC) came on-board as the Secretary General for the conference and shared his vast experience as the head of an intergovernmental committee with the participants.
Brainwiz has always made efforts to use the existing models of extracurricular activities to impart the best of skills to the students. Not only have we tried to make these activities more educative for kids, but also tried to enrich them with experiences that last for a very long time.