The Webster-Leiden Campus delegation to Munapest

The Webster-Leiden Campus delegation to Munapest – Model United Nations of Budapest – returned from the April conference with awards by-the-double: two awards and two honorable mentions. This is the third consecutive year Leiden Campus has brought accolades back to Zuid Holland and the first time two delegates have won for ‘best position paper’ at the same time for Leiden: Neha Purswaney for Russia and Akseli Kivineva as Russia Today in the Press Committee.

Kivineva and the Press Committee produced more than 170 bylines and over 300 tweets during the four-day conference. The well-researched paper by Kivineva garnered the first-time delegate an extra nod from committee head Márton Hegedűs.

“I’ve seen many good ones, but this delegate showed outstanding preparedness,” Hegedűs said.

Gorloks and model-UNs
The model-United Nations (MUN) experience in Budapest operates on fictitious scenarios created for "ambassadors" and their "delegations" to resolve over a four-day period.  Participants are placed among nine committees representing actual UN bodies along with a press committee where “reporters” represent news agencies rather than states. Delegations from multiple Webster European campuses have contributed to the success of Munapest since its inception four years-ago.

In 2014, the organizers of WebMUN – Webster Model United Nations – came up with an idea which fundamentally changed the status-quo of MUN conferences: Interconnectivity. The concept eventually coupled with the instant-messaging platform Slack® and facilitated an MUN experience “where decisions in one committee affected the work of all others and participants had to rely on each other…,” according to the 2018 Delegates’ Guide.

The interconnectivity of Munapest made an impression on Webster Thailand-based study abroad student, Alex Lopez.

“The biggest difference, by far, was the interconnectivity; having to communicate with the same team from other committees,” Lopez said. “And then, just the complexity at which we got to discuss certain topics since it was over four days.”

Lopez was the part of the Russian delegation and sat on the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) during the conference. He started participating in MUNs in Thailand during high school and it runs in the family. His mother, a former foreign correspondent for TIME Magazine, works for the UN as Director of Strategic Publications for the Economic and Social Commission of Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP).

“It’s of a personal interest. Kind-of getting to know what she does as a profession and getting to simulate that,” Lopez said.

Diplomacy-as-life
And simulating a real-life diplomatic crisis is where Munapest shines: this year, the resurgence of Asian powers on the world stage brought a week filled with controversial deals and healthy debates. Secretary General, H.E. Sarina Venus Memari summarized the all-around diplomacy aspect of Munapest during closing speeches at the General Assembly - the final event of the conference.

 “Diplomacy is everywhere; it applies to everything. Every situation; every minute of your life, with everyone,” Memari said. “Each and every one of us wants to see a change in the world. And for us - to be able to see that change… we really must initiate that ourselves.”

Memari also said some of the most-valuable life lessons a student could learn come from conferences like Munapest. Russian delegate Lopez agreed with the retiring Secretary General.

“I can’t really sum it up in any one moment,” Lopez said. “I think it really all comes together as a package and that made it a week I’ll remember, probably, for the rest of my life.”

Honorable mentions were also awarded to Jose Weinberger for his work in the Kuwaiti delegation and Brian Ruth as Al-Jazeera in the Press Committee. For more information, follow the Webster-Leiden Campus MUN Assoc. (@WLMUNA) and Munapest (@munapest) on Facebook.