2,600 delegates from 236 different countries travelled to New York to take part in a United Nations Conference, where students from CEU got to represent Vietnam. It was for the FWWMUN (Future We Want MUN), the only model United Nations debate that, the organisation claims, allows the equal participation of young people from every country. An excellent opportunity that the students from the MUN Club at CEU Valencia did not want to miss out on. Future leaders from all over the world were bringing their proposals with views on how to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
When they found out last October that, in February, New York would host the biggest, most important meeting of this kind, Tomás Agustín Alassia (Law, focusing on International and EU Law); Maite Bellido (Journalism and Audio-visual Communication); Álvaro Bombal (Political Sciences and Law); Joan Segura (Law, focusing on International and EU Law); Tomiris Sugirbek (Audio-visual Communication, Advertising and Public Relations); Yaiza Vivo Espinoza (Law and Business Administration), all started to raise the funds to take part in this unique experience.
“The students, especially the club veterans had the desire to do a more ambitious project, something more complex that posed a real challenge, like the Model United Nations.” Something like that is challenging because “completing tasks in pairs is difficult for us because we have always participated individually,” states Tomás. He also highlights that in order to prepare for the event, they had help from Alberto Ortí, a coach from the debates forum at CEU who has also trained many of the MUN club members: “Alberto trained us to participate in the project, conducting debates in English so that we could gain experience and become more fluid in the specific language which is used”, he assures adding that: “We also had support from the English professor Noel Fitzpatrick, who helped us with the position papers”.
A priceless international experience
With a challenge decided on, and training started for the debates, the CEU students, with the help of the university, decided to launch a campaign to raise funds to finance a large part of the costs. They did it. Once they were there the “Vietnamese delegates”, really benefited from the experience. So they told us.
“The conference in New York is the most inclusive and diverse with delegates from 136 countries. For example, on the Committee for Disarmament there were around 200 delegations”, explains Maite, she adds: “Although we weren’t the only Spanish people, there were very few of us there”.
“The international experience has been very rewarding,” continues her colleague Joan, “The ability to get to know the opinion of other young people from all over the world shows that, all in all, no matter how near or faraway we are from each other, we are all similar”.
Yaiza emphasises the idea: “the really worthwhile thing about this experience has been the ability to maintain the conversations outside the Committee meetings. Everyone from different nationalities shared their own traditions along with other things such as the day-to-day life of a student in their respective countries. This has, without a doubt, made us want to travel to each country and learn about the cultures first hand.”
It was not just the international experience that was priceless. The CEU students really value the skills and capabilities that they have gained thanks to their participation in the worldwide debate. “Throughout the meetings you learn how to act in a formal atmosphere, how to follow a code of conduct and how to get over the fear of public speaking. You also learn how to negotiate and it makes you realise that co-operation and respect are what creates success”, stresses Claudia.
Skills for a multicultural debate
That is what this initiative is about; the success of the Sustainable Development Goals. Because, in order to improve the lives of the population, it must be done by the politicians Álvaro explains: “The type of politics in which people do not express how they really think and feel is no longer politics, instead it is the management of politicians and not the people. Because of this, the simple act of arguing implies that politics is not only a technique but also a concern for all the represented people. It is vital to know how to listen, understand the stance of each person and be able to build a successful and constructive dialogue.”
It is precisely because of this that the MUN is not there as a competition. Tomiris highlights that “this type of debate does not consist of discrediting the position of the opposition and demonstrate the superiority and sincerity of your own team, it is about coming to an agreement (it is a consensual debate). There were however honorary prizes and, in our team, Yaiza and I represented Vietnam in the Health Committee, and we received an honorary mention.”
On her part, Yaiza is clear that she will continue getting involved in these kinds of activities. “We are already preparing to take part in the national debates. As well as this we are continuing our weekly meetings in which we carry out simulations and they teach us different techniques and skills for public speaking.”
Inspired by the Rio Resolution + 20 in 2012, “The future we want”, FWWMUN came about from the promise of promoting a united international community and a better and more sustainable future through the success of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). FWWMUN has identified 10 goals from the 17 SDG as key areas to focus on with young people and education as a guide for the work of the organisation.