Model United Nations or MUN is a grand educational event that reproduces all the conditions, emotions and struggles of a real UN conference. Since 2008 a special project called FAUMUN has been created at our university that enables students to participate in these activities as well. Any student from any of the 5 faculties can become a delegate (it is the official title of a participant) as interdisciplinarity is a vital component here. Since 2010 our delegates take part in international events, namely the National MUN in New York. Now, I’m not an expert in this area so to continue my story I would like to introduce Vice-Chairman of the United Nations Society Nuremberg, Alexander Hoeppel and Project Manager and Faculty Advisor of FAUMUN (FAU), Richard Endörfer.
Could you tell a few words about FAUMUN? When did it start and what is its purpose?
Alexander: FAUMUN is a project that prepares students for Model United Nations in general. At the FAU it started in 2007, when we had our first delegation. I myself took part in the 2009/2010 delegation and since then I have been organizing the project. Our main goal at the university is to use Model United Nations as a framework for enhancing and improving specific soft-skills that are useful for your future career such as public speaking or researching on sometimes very difficult topics of the United Nations. Negotiating is also one of the key points that MUN helps to develop and enhance. At the same time it’s all about cooperation as we have many interesting people coming from different backgrounds and subjects. It really helps to find creative solutions.
Who can participate in FAUMUN? Could you describe a perfect candidate for Model United Nations?
Richard: People that are allowed to participate in FAUMUN have to be students of the FAU so it’s just about our university. BayernMUN conference, on the contrary, is open to everyone who would like to join and who has a little bit of prior MUN experience.
As to FAUMUN, all students of the university are allowed to enter and participate in this project. First, you have to send an application because we have so many people interested in the project. Basically, it doesn’t matter what your subject of studies is. We have participants from all 5 faculties. I’m for example studying political science. There are other people studying maths, economics, psychology or something else. So your major doesn’t matter, but you have to be in the 3rd semester minimum when FAUMUN starts in the winter semester or you have to be in the 2nd semester during the application period (i.e. summer semester). And, actually, this is all we require from the prospect delegates.
Are there any fees for participation?
Alexander: Yes, since we also participate in the National MUN in New York, the project is not for free. The costs vary every year and this year it was 1200 euros for those who were going to New York. This sum includes the hotel in New York which actually makes the participation in NMUN New York quite expensive. Attending other conferences and trainings within the program is included as well. We try to keep the fees as low as possible, but we also think that it is a worthwhile investment for a student’s education.
Richard: Furthermore, we prepare students during various conferences and bayernMUN is just one of them. We have a little mini-MUN conference at FAU with some guests, for example, from LauMUN (grammar school of St. Lawrence) and other partner groups. And we visit the MUN conference of the German Armed Forces, the so-called Security MUN or SecMUN, where they discuss different security aspects. This is another conference (along with bayernMUN) that a participant has to visit within the mandatory program of the project. And, of course, you have to pay for transportation to Munich, a hotel and conference fees which altogether increases the overall costs of the FAUMUN project.
On March 4th there is the official closing date of the mandatory program. Then the last destination will be the National Model UN in New York City. When will the next deadline for the project 2016/17 be scheduled?
Richard, last year you were part of the delegation. This year you are one of the organizers of the project. What is more interesting for you: to participate or to organize?
Richard: That’s a hard question. But nevertheless, both parts have been very interesting. As a delegate I had the possibility to negotiate together with other people from all over the world at SecMUN, bayernMUN and NMUN. It was so interesting getting to know so many people. And the experience as a project manager is totally different. I’m not involved that much in working with others as I would be as a delegate. A delegate has to talk to over a hundred of people but now, during conferences, I’m more often giving interviews. In general, this change from delegate to project manager is a very cool experience. So I wouldn’t say that one is better than the other. These are just two different experiences.
Alexander, could you tell a few words about the United Nations Society Nuremberg, its purpose and main tasks?
Alexander: We founded this Society as an alumni network for FAUMUN, to support the project, and to organize BayernMUN as well as other UN related events. And it’s very interesting to learn what the participants do after the project. The UNSN also gives former participants the possibility to recreate the FAUMUN experience, to stay in touch, and to support the project so other students can benefit from it as well.
P.S. a quick reminder: the next application period begins on May 1st and will be open till July 1st on the official website of FAUMUN (https://www.faumun.fau.de/). So don’t hesitate and become a part of something huge and exciting!
Many thanks to Alexander Hoeppel and Richard Endörfer for an informative interview!