I am a delegate of the United Nations. I negotiate and resolve the many international crises of our day. I assert my positions on countless global—————I apologize. You see, thanks to my fanaticism, making high school Model United Nations as real as possible never proves difficult. Weekend after weekend, I don discount suits, engage in spurious parliamentary procedure, and raise slapdash placards. Yet amidst this pretense, I have uncovered realities and – most important – beliefs. John Keats says, ‘Truth is beauty, beauty truth.’ For me, so is untruth. Model United Nations has taught me to believe in the beauty of imitation.
Almost every aspect of a Model UN conference is a sham. High school auditoriums replace the General Assembly and two seniors, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. What does ring true, however, is the genuine interest in international relations and desire to pass a resolution that we all bring. When committee is called to order, I become the country I represent and think only of the topic at hand. I stemmed unsustainable population growth as France and halted practices of overfishing as Belgium. Ignoring that I earn candy for outstanding points and forgetting the passed notes that reveal hidden amours, I dedicate myself fully to this charade.
What fast becomes clear in committee is that every nation has different, unyielding interests. The clash of such interests and the disparity in the leverage to achieve them makes engaging in the collaborative spirit of diplomacy an immense challenge. How, for example, can developed nations demand that those less so respect the environment or provide their workforces basic human rights when advancement comes no other way? Questions like this stimulate impassioned debate that spans hemispheres, religions, cultures, and economic statuses. The obstacles that prevent cooperation in Model UN cause me to appreciate that it must be nigh impossible to negotiate at the actual international level. This is especially true because countries that would never actually work together like the United States and Cuba often overlook their differences to co-sponsor a resolution during simulations.
Even more interesting about this collision of special interests and perspectives is that I, a United States citizen inculcated with patriotism since birth, have the opportunity to submerse myself in violently counterintuitive personal and national positions. Representing al Qaeda, I called for the ruin of the imperialist West. A mock crisis forced me to defend the use of torture in the global war on terrorism as Italy. No matter the topic, wrapping my head around unconventional and disagreeable positions has allowed me to understand better not only diverse ideologies but also my own. Uncovering rationales for ostensibly irrational foreign positions moreover fosters tolerance amongst us high school students at a time the world needs it most. It is easy to dismiss an issue as black-and-white, good-and-evil; but to explore the subtleties therein takes time.
After the close of any Model United Nations conference, I rush home, tear off my business attire, and relax with friends. The illusion of what I accomplished as an international diplomat soon fades: speeches I delivered, deals I brokered, resolutions I passed. The essence, however, of what I imitated – better yet, of what I exalted – that day is never truly gone.
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