“This is a year for the history books.” Felipe Félix, Secretary-General of PANAMUN’s 25th edition, said to 9th graders and new students to ISP. Most of them untouched by the world of MUN, watched attentively as the Secretary-General introduced the rest of his Secretariat and their area of expertise. The hype began when the trailer of PANAMUN XXV made by the Deputy of the Secretary-General, Austin Lopez, was presented for the first time ever. The trailer focused on the theme of this year’s conference: Closing Gaps. The Secretary-General continued the assembly, explaining to the delegates the whole idea behind the United Nations, showing delegates the structure of the United Nations and demonstrated how PANAMUN tries to model not only the way the UN works, but the essence of teamwork and resilience behind it too.
Chairs, trading in their gavels for placards, acted out a small scene of what a PANAMUN debate looks like. Delegates were able to see how to rise to the podium, present a resolution, and what kinds of questions they will be asked. Not only that, but these students were able to understand that PANAMUN, in the words of Felipe Félix, is a place where students, just like them, share their creative ideas and opinions with people with unique perspectives, allowing solutions to be created very similarly to the ones presented in the United Nations, perhaps even better.
The orientation began with a short ice breaker, two truths and a lie. While quiet and hesitant to participate at first, the students soon began to laugh and lose the tension they first came in with. The first MUN activity was a one-on-one debate simulation, where students were given topics ranging from McDonalds vs. KFC to Hillary vs. Trump. This practice of impromptu speaking allowed these students to experience a bit of what being put on the spot during PANAMUN would look like. Chairs ended this activity with some personalized advice for these new delegates, informing them of the do’s and don’ts they’ve learned from years of experience.
Chairs then led delegates through the process of writing an opening speech. Delegates were assigned a fruit or vegetable and then wrote a short opening speech, detailing why their fruit or vegetable was the most important one. Chairs gave individual feedback to delegates, giving them key points about writing and presenting their opening speeches. The activity got interesting when the delegates were told to make small groups, trying to mirror the lobbying process where resolutions are made.
The delegates, still with their fruit or vegetable identity, were asked to create a resolution about why their “salad” was the best, and then present their resolution. From the “republic of carrot” to “coco-loco land”, this exercise allowed delegates to get some insight not only in the resolution making process, but also on debating resolutions and voting on them.
Félix ended the assembly with, “We only have one chance, what do you want your legacy to be?” something that left delegates filled with jittering excitement for the upcoming conference. PANAMUN XXV, centered on the theme of Closing Gaps, has been in the working for months now, with the goal of making this conference the best one yet. In celebration of the 25th Anniversary, there is a documentary in the making, detailing the history of this conference and how it's grown since its first year. This year’s conference will have a record number of visiting delegates and a total of 18 committees, both in Spanish and English. The conference will be held at the International School of Panama from October 25th to October 27th and we hope to see you all there!