“All the great speakers were bad speakers at first.”
This quote from the American poet Emerson perfectly describes the initial reason I applied to the Delegation: to improve my public speaking skills. Looking back on my experience as part of the 18th Delegation, I can wholeheartedly say it has brought me so much more than that!
As a Nanobiologist I spend most of my days in the laboratory, marvelling about life at the smallest scale. Hence, you can imagine that the contrast with what I did with the Delegation could not have been larger. However, it is not despite, but because of this contrast with my regular study that the Delegation has served me so well. For one day a week I stepped out my comfort zone and immersed myself in the world of international politics, multilateral diplomacy, and the United Nations. Next to the lectures, I greatly enjoyed our trainings on public speaking, debating, and negotiating. Here, you will learn everything there is to know about public speaking from rhetorical devices to framing and from body language to doing an in promptu speech. It was inspiring to see my fellow delegates grow and improve themselves as the trainings went by and it has made me realize this programme was exactly what I was looking for. I have no doubt that the skills I learned during the Delegation will be useful throughout my future career.
Eventually you will put the skills and knowledge you acquired into practice during Model United Nations simulation debates. After representing the United Kingdom, Algeria, Mexico, and many others on an equally wide range of topics during our Friday sessions, I was put to the test at Montréal United Nations Conference! Here I looked after Cuba’s interests in the Security Council during a debate on the rising tensions in the Caucuses. After a weekend stacked with motions, speeches and negotiating, the committee came to a consensus on the topic and I headed back home, an experience gained. Six months down the road we participated online at Harvard’s National MUN, where my committee discussed the issue of ethnic violence. To make the most of the conference, we arranged accommodation together with my fellow UNL’ers in this committee and spent the weekend together. Trying to make your voice heard in a committee with over 100 participants, while you are struggling to stay awake (we had a 6-hour time difference with Boston) was intense and demanding. However, it is exactly for that reason that it was more rewarding to see yourself and fellow UNL’ers make headway in this challenge environment as the weekend progressed. Even without the fancy trips to Oxford and Boston, my year at the Delegation was more than worth it and I will treasure the valuable lessons, amazing experiences, funny moments, and forged friendships.
But for me the ride did not end there, as after my semester in the Delegation I, like so many others, stayed involved as a trainer for the Public Speaking Program. Later, we even hosted our very own “UNL festival” with our entire Delegation during the summer. I can assure you that behind those light blue scarves and ties, there is a wonderful community of enthusiastic, passionate, and energetic individuals. I enjoyed the journey every step of the way, and I am sure you will too!