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Why Is the Model UN So Popular?

Max with Erin Kellas, a Model UN director at Smith Middle School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina 

Each year, an estimated 20,000 students in the United States participate in a program called Model United Nations, or MUN. Why is the program so popular? Students can gain valuable skills that will benefit them as they further their education and prepare for careers.

In a MUN, young people assume the role of delegates from member countries in the United Nations. They work together to find solutions to global challenges.

MUN programs are available to students of all levels around the world. This year, I participated in a MUN at Smith Middle School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I was one of 32 participants in our school district’s conference. The conferences take place in formal settings. We gathered in conference rooms at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. 

MUN participants have to do extensive research on the selected topics, which include addressing climate change and freedom of the press. “You never know what will happen until you get to the conference,” said Xinyin Zhang, a fellow participant from Smith Middle School. “You have to be prepared in every aspect.”


Max talks via video with MUN participant Robin Huang.


MUN teaches students about teamwork. Delegates must come to a consensus before they vote on resolutions. “The exposure to working together to solve issues is a lesson that carries over,” said Erin Kellas, a MUN director at Smith. 

Students also learn how to debate nuanced topics, including regulating nuclear weapons. “It’s important to learn how to handle [controversy],”  Kellas said.

MUN participant Robin Huang said that the program shows young delegates how to present their opinions and develop their public speaking skills. “Those opinions,” she added, “should not hurt people’s identities.”

The ability to communicate effectively and work with others is essential for success. Participating in a MUN helps young people develop these skills while they learn about international politics. 



Photos courtesy of the author