This semester Penn’s International Affairs Association will hold their first ever Ivy League Model United Nations Conference India conference, which will take place in New Delhi over fall break.
Approximately 3,000 high school students from across the country attend ILMUNC in Philadelphia every year. The group began planning international conferences two years ago, with the inception of ILMUNC China.
They expect anywhere between 500 and 700 students from India, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Brazil to attend the New Delhi conference this year. Ten IAA members will travel to India over fall break to act as committee chairs and secretariat members — the main organizing staff of the conference.
The conference is over a year in the making. A group of five sophomores who are from India came up with the idea the summer before their freshman year at Penn and proposed the idea to IAA last fall.
Engineering sophomore Kush Mehta was one of the original group of students who came up with the idea for ILMUNC India after participating in Model UN as high school students in India. He remembers thinking that “ILMUNC would create the perfect atmosphere for debate on challenging global issues, which would attract Indian students,” he said in an email.
By January of 2013, the idea was fully approved by the executive board and planning was in full swing.
Planning the logistics of conference in New Dehli, over 7,000 miles away, posed a challenge for the IAA. Though, in the past, IAA has hosted two other international model UN conferences, which were in China, their Chinese partner organization completed all the logistical preparations. This time, they have the responsibility over everything, form deciding on a hotel to picking out merchandise designs for the conference.
“This is one of the first times we’ve run an international conference from the ground up,” said IAA president and Wharton senior Yadavan Mahendraraj. “The number of 5 a.m. Skype calls I have done is innumerable.”
The team is partnering with Indian International Model United Nations—IIMUN—which runs the largest model UN conference in Asia, attracting about 2,000 students to their conference last year.
They also recruited students currently in India to act as “ILMUNC India Envoys” to work on the ground to prepare for the conference. Some of the committee chairs and assistant directors — who facilitate debates and judge the competition — are Indian college students.
According to Mahendraraj, this is the first Western style Model UN conference to take place in India. At most conferences in India, students arrive with more prepared responses and sometimes even pre-written resolutions to present.
In contrast, during American Model UN conferences, organizers try to mimic the unpredictability of international affairs, springing crises on participants and “simulating the real world where nothing stays static,” Mahendraraj said.
The conference participants in the new location will bring a new perspective on the issues presented, Mahendraraj predicts. He said that Chinese students at the ILMUNC China conference approach the things differently than American students who attend ILMUNC in Philadelphia.
“I’m excited to see how delegates in India treat things differently,” Mahendraraj said.
Wharton sophomore Adina Luo, who will act as the chair of United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development at ILMUNC India, has enjoyed chairing Model UN conferences in the past and talking to participating students.
Luo also mentioned that the conference will take place entirely in English. “They’re doubly impressive,” she said of the conference’s bilingual participants.Comments powered by Disqus
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