As the Spring semester gets underway, the clubs and organizations at the University of Maine settle into routine. The university’s Model UN club spends each Wednesday evening discussing, planning and prepping for conferences and trips. Emily Stockman, a second-year political science and French student, has been in the club for the past year and a half. She appreciates how the team, specifically the conferences, have helped her understand her majors more thoroughly.
Stockman commented on the club’s recent trip to Montreal, Canada. “The conference was immensely helpful. Stockman said.“I’m a French major and a political science major, so being in a conference room that was like a pretend board of directors…full of people half of whom spoke French as their first language and hearing people argue in French and having to argue with them…it was really beneficial.”
In Model UN, students pretend to make decisions for countries, as one would in the actual United Nations. They debate specific or general issues that actual countries might face.
“It’s very theatrical,” Stockman said. “It’s a lot of public speaking and you pretend to sort of be a country or a person, so if someone’s a theater major it’s kind of similar skills of talking in front of people and having to act almost as someone else.”
Stockman decided to join the club after seeing it at the club fair. They were advertising their Spring trip to Tokyo, and although COVID-19 ended up canceling that trip, Stockman is immensely grateful that she joined.
“I love it because of the friends I’ve made,” Stockman said.
Stockman appreciates that Model UN isn’t a huge time commitment. Apart from the trips, which might last multiple days, she only has to attend meetings once per week. Stockman also emphasizes that the club travels both locally and internationally.
Stockman highlights that Model UN is not just for political science students. Some are studying economics or theater. Although Model UN might focus on political issues, there’s much more a student can learn from it.
Stockman spends each week with her peers preparing for these conferences. Although she felt confident in her ability to speak about the subject matter, other parts of the conference were not what she expected it to be.
I wasn’t expecting the time in the conference rooms to be as long—we were in meetings for the committees from six to nine hours a day,” Stockman said.
She ultimately found value in the meetings, and although the conferences might be long and tiresome, the weekly club meetings are more relaxed. The Model UN team is also the International Affairs Association. She said that the meetings often contain discussion of international affairs and political issues on a world-scale. Other times, their meetings are more specific.
“We’ll get an assignment and we’ll research a country and a topic and then we’ll practice the protocol for being in meetings,” Stockman said.
There is a small club fee to join, but Stockman believes this is incredibly reasonable. She said that the club gets sweatshirts, and the majority of their trips are paid for by the school. They’re hoping to go to a conference at The College of William & Mary in April.
The Model UN club is open to all. Their meetings are held each Wednesday from 6 to 7 p.m. in the International Affairs Lounge on the first floor of Stevens Hall.