By Chloe Kwek (20J18) and Lin Jiawen (20J19)
The clacking of court heels, the pounding of the gavel, the rush of impeccably-dressed delegates moving from one venue to another. These are the sights and sounds that most of us associate with the annual River Valley Model United Nations (RVMUN) - at least until this year.
The Covid-19 pandemic means that almost everything has found its place online, and RVMUN is no exception. Organised annually by RV’s History and Current Affairs Society (HACAS), RVMUN is a simulation of the United Nations, where students take the perspectives of delegates from different countries and work together to solve real-world issues in different councils.
Held online from 15-17th March this year, RVMUN 2021 involved 11 councils and more than 250 delegates from schools all around Singapore - by far the largest MUN that RV had ever organised.
So, did everyone still manage to have a fulfilling experience despite the lack of face-to-face interactions?
Well, apart from the fact that it was online, Historical Crisis Council (HCC) chair Tang Jiaxi of 20J18 feels that the biggest difference between this year’s RVMUN and that of past years was the reduced cross-communication between delegates.
“It was harder to tell who was talking at any one point since there were so many faces; some delegates didn’t even turn on their cameras. However, there was a greater human touch upon seeing the reactions of all the delegates towards what another delegate has said,” she recalls.
The HCC chairs in action!
This is corroborated by the teacher-in-charge of RVMUN, Mr Shane Koh of the History department. “The fact that this year’s edition of RVMUN was virtual made it even more important to ensure that we could still properly nurture the academic and relationship aspects of MUN-ing.”
“In order to provide the best experience for delegates, we placed a lot more trust and power in the directors, and to their credit, they served with distinction,” he adds proudly, giving credit to the Organising Committee who worked tirelessly to ensure that the conference ran smoothly.
When asked what was a major misconception people have about MUNs, World Health Organisation (WHO) delegate Oh Rui Quan of 3A feels that it is the difference between what the ROP (Rules of Procedure) say and what actually happens during MUN.
“In the materials sent to us, it looked like MUN was extremely rigid and formal, and that making conversations would be difficult. In actual fact, the ROP are actually simple to follow after the first council session, even for a beginner.”
Who’s there? It’s the WHO delegates!
If you’re thinking of joining future MUNs but aren’t sure yet, here’s something that might help you make up your mind! HCC chair Joey Peh of 20J14 remembers that in her first two MUNs, she was definitely intimidated by the power delegates who spoke so fluently and with such bombastic words. While she understands that it is normal for delegates to not dare to speak up in the first few MUNs, she also stresses that they will gradually learn that there's actually nothing much to be afraid of.
She offers a helpful tip: “If you are afraid of speaking up, give yourself a goal. For example, aim to speak at every GSL (General Speakers’ List). Soon after, you will get the hang of it and speak up as much as you can.”
Indeed, there is a consensus among our interviewees that everyone should not be afraid to take part in MUNs; although it may seem daunting or exclusive at first, you will definitely learn and improve along the way!
Finally, as Mr Koh put it, “This year’s theme, Sapere Aude, means ‘dare to know’. Go out there, give yourself a chance for this experience. The world’s waiting on change, and you might just be it!”