Model United Nations, or “MUN” as many call it, gathers students from all across the globe who represent specific countries or diplomats in simulated sessions of the United Nations. Georgetown University is hosting NAIMUN, the North American Invitational Model United Nations, for the 48th year this weekend at the Hilton Washington. This week, THE GUIDE speaks with Jag Singh (SFS `12) and Kelsie Wilhelm (SFS `12), the top officials of this year’s annual NAIMUN.
What is your role?
Jag: I am the secretary general of the conference. Kelsie and I are the executives. As the secretary general, I am responsible for organizing the committees themselves. I oversee groups of 10 under secretary generals who work in pairs and are in charge of an organization. As secretary general, I am overseeing the conference, setting up with logistics and working with Kelsie setting up the hotel.
Kelsie: I am the executive director … I’m in charge of managing the logistical and fiscal aspects of the conference. I work with the hotel to handle the contract system … I have eight staffers to plan all of our philanthropy aspects, including a chief of staff to make sure everyone has an enjoyable time.
What made you want to become a part of it?
Jag: I’ve done MUN since I was 12 years old. I went to a lot of conferences in high school, including NAIMUN twice. The experience in MUN as a high school student shaped my life. It changes what you know about the international arena … My main goal is to give people the experience that I had in high school.
Kelsie: I did MUN all four years in high school … Both in my junior and senior years, I planned a much smaller MUN conference for 50 high schools from our region. I really love the logistical side of the experience.
What lessons does it teach high school students?
Jag: When a lot of people think about MUN, they think about a bunch of nerdy kids who are interested in international relations and want to go into foreign service. NAIMUN takes MUN above the debates. You’ll learn about international relations, but you’ll learn how to argue a position and compromise, skills that will help you in business and many other professions.
Kelsie: It definitely helps broaden perspectives for high school students. You might be assigned to a committee that you [did] not know much about before; you have to consider an issue from another person’s perspective. It makes the delegates think on a higher level.
What things have you learned in running it?
Jag: I’ve learned a lot about my leadership style and myself. I’ve never had the responsibility of managing a staff of 200 people. I’ve also learned the importance of hard work, dedication and consistency. But mostly [it’s] really crafting an experience, crafting a program from the ground up.
Kelsie: This past year being executive director has taught me so much, including how to work with a team of people … It’s an amazing thing to work on such a project and work with other talented Georgetown students. It’s helped me be a better manager and become more logistically oriented.
Best part/worst part/most fun part?
Jag: The worst part would have to be the strain on academics. Balancing so many things within the conference with schoolwork can be challenging. The best is yet to come: when the conference itself actually happens, seeing 3,000 students in this hotel. We always get fantastic feedback about the memories that NAIMUN creates. The main goal of mine is to leave the delegates with great memories of their own.
Kelsie: Of the best parts about being involved with NAIMUN is the personal relationships I’ve built [that] have come out of NAIMUN. Some of my best friends are from my time in NAIMUN. It’s been one of the most enjoyable parts of my Georgetown experience.
-Interview by Steven Piccione