Undersecretary General for the Specialized Agencies
Jordan: So what made you want to start your own Model United Nations conferences?
Mitchell: I decided to start MeDMUN as I felt that some of the conferences I had attended as a high school delegate did not reflect what I felt should be included in a conference. This is not to say that these conferences were not well run, educational, or enjoyable; rather I felt there were clearly areas for improvement. Additionally, after attending my final conference as a high school delegate, I just did not feel as if I could stop participating in Model UN in some form.
Jordan: What obstacles did you encounter as you developed MeDMUN?
Mitchell: In its first year, MeDMUN faced plenty of obstacles. The first thing I did, in March of 2014, was write a plan that outlined the basics of the conference, such as its format and date. Also included were schools that we knew had Model UN clubs. In May of 2014, I sent out invitations via mail to nearly 40 schools, and not one school responded. That fall I ended up switching over to email invitations and luckily was able to get into contact with several interested schools. In this way, right from the start, we were faced with the major obstacle of whether schools would buy into coming to a new conference that was not backed by an existing set of organizers or a University.
Jordan: Were there times where you doubted yourself?
Mitchell: Yes! I would say that in the months leading up to conference, about 60% of my time is spent doubting how well the future conference will go. Luckily, as we’ve grown our conference and our secretariat, I am beginning to doubt less and less about our viability and the quality of MeDMUN.
Jordan: Who and what contributed to the success of your vision?
Mitchell: There have been so many people who have contributed to bringing MeDMUN together. From my parents, to Walled Lake Western’s adviser and my first staffers. Above all, I think that the vision we articulate, of inclusivity, participation, and engaging with new perspectives, is a vision that delegates and many like and want to experience. Furthermore, being able to organize and stay on top of the many little details is really important to bringing the vision together. You need to start with an outline and then be able to change the outline as you move forward and learn more about yourself and more about the vision you want to achieve.
Jordan: What is your favorite part about running a Model UN conference?
Mitchell: There is so much that I love, but what I think I enjoy most about running MeDMUN is seeing all of our planning and effort result in a finished conference that allows delegates to learn for themselves and from each other. We start planning for the next MeDMUN the Sunday after the conference, we develop plans, committees, and assemble our staff; but all of this is done in the abstract as we cannot know what the next MeDMUN will actually be like until we make it to the next conference.
Jordan: How much time do you dedicate to MeDMUN?
Mitchell: During less busy periods, I devote usually 5 hours a week to MeDMUN, checking out potential committees and at other conferences, reading their rules of procedure for ideas and other things like that. In the busy months, such as the 2 months preceding the conference, the week we hire our new staffers, and the last background guide check, I usually spend 10-15 hours a week focused on MeDMUN.
Jordan: Why is Model UN important to you?
Mitchell: Model UN is history, politics and international relations in action. As someone who loves to study these topics, being able to interact with my peers in a competitive environment was perfect. However, more importantly, Model UN has truly changed me as a person, making me more social and confident. As a conference organizer, Model UN has a similar meaning, but has also allowed me to create a venue for delegates to explore more unusual topics from new and different perspectives. As an educational tool, Model UN is phenomenal.
Jordan: Do you have any advice for students looking to get involved in Model UN?
Mitchell: DO IT! I was really shy in high school, but Model UN was so important in helping me get out of my shell and become more confident in myself. At first it can seem daunting to put oneself out in front of other people, but I think it is really liberating in a way. As a new delegate, you should keep in mind that all the other delegates are as nervous and self-conscious as you are, so get involved!