An insight into the Best Delegate training for PANAMUN’s Chairs.
This year’s PANAMUN chairs have received the same level of training as some of the UN’s top diplomats, which means they will definitely be prepared to create the best environments for the delegates in their committees, possibly resulting in one of our best conferences to date.
PANAMUN XXVI’s 46 Chairs, who are in charge of moderating the different committees and creating positive and inspiring environments for the delegates, have begun training for the upcoming conference. On Sunday September 9th, 2018, the chairs came to school at 9:00 in the morning to attend a training session conducted by Best Delegate, a global education organization that run Model UN training sessions in universities and schools around the world.
Best Delegate is the world’s leading expert on Model United Nations. They train students in schools and universities all over the world, including students in Harvard, Georgetown and UCLA, and have even trained officials in the UN Office at Vienna.
In order to learn more about the program, an interview was conducted with Erik Leiden, the instructor that came to train our Chairs. When asked about the inspiration behind the Best Delegate program, he responded saying, “We have a passion for Model UN. We want to bring out the best in students through Model UN and we believe that all students should have access to model UN.” And they have been able to do just that. Leiden said that although it is difficult to pinpoint exactly how many schools and universities Best Delegate has worked with, they have been able to teach in 30 different countries and, in their most recent summer camp, they had 900 students attending from all around the world.
Leiden went on to say that he has been working with Best Delegate for 5 years now, 3 of which have been full time. When asked about his experience so far, he said “It has been a great experience. Model UN was my hobby through high school and it’s been so amazing to turn it into a full time job. I’m from a small town in Ohio and after working with Model UN, I have gotten a chance to travel to 57 countries and experience the world.” He went on to say that he has been involved in Model UN conferences since 10th grade. When asked about why he got involved with Model UN in the first place, his answer was something that surely many of our chairs and delegates could relate to on some level. He said, “I wanted to debate. I liked to argue in class. My school didn’t have a debate team or anything like that like they do here. It just had Model UN and after joining I realized that I love geography and negotiation and everything that comes with MUN.”
To finish off, Leiden was asked about his impression of Panama from what he had seen so far and he answered saying, “It’s my second time in Panama. I once read the book Panama Fever and absolutely loved it. I really love Panama. The weather is great, and I especially love the food and the people, although I don’t particularly like the rain. And the canal is a wonder of the world.” About PANAMUN, he said, “I am really excited for the conference. It is unique to have a conference that is for the entire school and even more unique to have one that is for an entire school and other schools as well. I am excited for the opportunities that it will open up for so many students, so that they can have an experience like mine.”
Our Chairs were definitely in good hands. Over the course of the day, for the next 7 hours, they listened to lectures and took part in workshops that would prepare them to be the best Chairs they could possibly be during this year’s upcoming PANAMUN conference.
They started off the day by discussing some of their best and worst committee experiences in order to make sure that they would be able to create the best environments for their delegates this year. They then got into groups to come up with three words to describe the attributes of a great chair. Out of the many that they came up with, the ones that stood out the most were being approachable, knowledgeable and professional. These were traits that the chairs continuously focused on throughout the day.
The Chairs then spent some time learning about MUN procedure, through a presentation that was given by Leiden. The presentation covered a variety of topics ranging from opening speeches and tips for chairs during opening speeches to how much control they should have during the lobbying process to what the debate procedure looks like in PANAMUN. After taking a five minute break, the Chairs practiced what they had learnt through role play. They broke into their committees for an hour and were given a script simulating the procedure, which they acted out. They practiced the various motions and points and clarified doubts as they went, helping each other master their skills. As you walked around the rooms you could see how engaged the chairs were and hear conversations about not only the procedure but also about the different experiences they had had in Model UN over the years. Members of the secretariat also circulated, helping whenever they saw it was needed.
After this activity, the entire group came back together to discuss challenges they had faced as they practiced and what they would like to improve. Many of the participants said confidence was the most important thing about chairing. The more confident and approachable one is, the smoother things will go, creating a much more comfortable atmosphere to work in. Throughout the rest of the session, the chairs learned about materials they would need, decorum and policies, being deliberate, professional accountability, and even discussed award policies and how to choose the right delegates for each award. They ended the day learning how to review resolutions and split up in groups just as they had done before to do so. The training ended with a revision on different types of editing and the difference between factual inaccuracies and bad ideas.
Overall it was a very insightful session. Woonki Park, the UNHCR Chair said, “the biggest thing I was able to take away from the training was professionalism.” The chairs left at the end of the day feeling much more prepared for the conference that is less than a month away.