By Shae Lee (22A13A), Max Yeo (22A13A) and Lim Jun Sheng (22A13A)
Imagine being faced with the steep task of defusing tensions while navigating a minefield of interstate relations. Imagine managing the careful cut-and-thrust of debate, dissecting your opponent’s arguments as you defend your own. Imagine trying to ensure that your voice is heard, your nation’s interests secured in a grand, global, arena. Sounds daunting, doesn’t it?
At the History and Strategic Affairs Society (HSTA), RI’s premier Model United Nations club, we welcome any who seek an ultimate test of their mettle. We equip members with a wide range of skills, such as speaking ability, knowledge of international affairs, and grand strategy. Our aim? To train a new generation of speakers and negotiators adept at tackling global issues and forging ties with others.
But before we proceed, it would perhaps be useful to first establish what exactly the main focus of our club is: MUN.
MUN: What is it?
The Model United Nations (MUN) is an event which generally sees individuals attending 2 -4 day conferences roleplaying as diplomats discussing key global issues. They dress up in formal attire, prepare research prior to the conference, and mimic a UN committee meeting—discussing, debating, and haggling over potential solutions to a topic.
MUN conferences are indeed extremely rewarding. You get to make friends with students from other schools, develop nuanced insights into novel issues, get cool merch (sometimes, at least) and crack lame jokes (e.g U.N. I belong together). Conferences are fun and rare opportunities to escape a boring and repetitive school schedule, and to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
THE CLUB: What do we do?
So now that you know what a MUN is, let’s get down to what our club does.
HSTA conducts 3-hour training sessions every Wednesday morning. During sessions, we train members in a range of ‘hard skills’, such as knowledge of international affairs, and how to write various documents and resolutions. We also develop ‘soft skills’: how to influence and lead others, delivering speeches with confidence, and writing eloquently. To this end, we regularly conduct MUN simulations, script-writing and other fun activities.
In addition, you may have heard of RMUN (Raffles Model United Nations), which is the annual flagship event organised by HSTA. In 2022, we will be celebrating the 30th iteration of RMUN – as one of the oldest and most prestigious Singapore MUNs at the secondary and junior college level, it attracts over 300 local and international students every year. All our members play an integral role in helping to organise the event, whether it be through chairing the respective councils, adding to the council experience as political actors (polacts), or working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the logistics are running smoothly.
Last but certainly not the least, we place a huge emphasis on bonding and building long lasting friendships within the club. We include time for some games every session (what better way to train persuasion than playing the world-renowned espionage game, Secret Hitler?), while also organising annual camps to let members interact and have fun with each other.
Should you join the CCA?
Now that you are familiar with the club and its activities, you might be deliberating on whether to join HSTA. Perhaps some of you may be wondering if you should join HSTA even if you have no prior MUN experience.
We welcome anyone who is curious, interested in learning and with the right attitude with open arms, regardless of your past experiences. Rest assured that we will ensure all members are sufficiently trained in the relevant MUN skills, and will go into every conference confident that they can make a difference in their councils.
We even seek to go beyond in ensuring that members will pick up crucial skills such as how to compromise and negotiate, how to persuade others to see your way, and even how to make friends and allies quickly. Most importantly, however, are the friendships, connections, and memories that will sustain long beyond your time in HSTA.
So, you stand before a crowded room, scribbled notes in hand, dozens of expectant faces waiting to hear you speak. Will you rise to the challenge?
*Cover image taken in accordance with SMMs during the prior phase of Covid-19 measures.