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Diplomat, activist speaks at LYMUN conference

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Almost 700 students from 33 schools’ Model United Nation (MUN) programs gathered in the Reber Center at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24 for LTMUN’s annual LYMUN conference. This year, LTMUN Secretary General Jack Dudley ‘18, with the help of Patrick O’Malley ‘18, arranged for former Illinois Senator Carol Moseley Braun to present as the opening speaker.

“We had been super interested in getting a politician speaker because so much of MUN is about politics, and [Braun] is such an amazing public figure,” LYMUN Secretary General Miles Hession ‘18 said. “It’s amazing we were able to get her. She was a part of the year of the woman in 1992, which is such a powerful movement. In the era of #metoo and the women’s marches, it’s so encouraging to have strong, powerful women speaking up and empowering other women to use their voices, too.”

Braun was such a powerful speaker because of her rich history in activism, Hession said. Along with marching with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement, she was also the first African American woman elected to the United States Senate in 1992. Club leaders decided to ask her to speak due to her connection to politics both nationally and internationally.

“Some of our past speakers have just been diplomatic officers, and their experience comes solely from being abroad,” Dudley said. “Braun has a background in domestic affairs– the city of Chicago, the state of Illinois and the federal government. Not everyone involved in MUN is going to go into the diplomatic corps, but any American citizen has an invested interest in learning about American politics.”

Many students around the country find inspiration through Braun’s political past, and Braun encourages high school students to take their own actions regarding what they care about.

“Laws have been passed because of young people,” Braun said. “Young people have a history of starting movements that change the world. I think [student activism] is so inspirational to me because I see in it a potential for changing the world.”

Along with organizing LYMUN’s opening ceremony, which Braun spoke at, Hession and LYMUN Chief of Staff Lauren Crawford ‘19 had the responsibility of organizing a plethora of ensuring that crisis staff was coordinating with the chairs to plan great events, assigning positions to 700 students, and organizing committee chairs to create the background guides and materials needed.

“The most fulfilling thing about being a MUN sponsor is the opportunity to see students take on new challenges and responsibilities,” LTMUN sponsor Andrew Johannes said. “LYMUN is a completely student run endeavor that starts [with] the planning and ends at the running of the conference. Miles and Lauren were integral to the success of LYMUN; they did a wonderful job.”

Although very similar to last year’s LYMUN conference, some club members put in extra effort to improve the conference for this year, Johannes said. For example, Carl Volz ‘18 created a video for the opening ceremony in addition to his job of coming up with crisis situations.

After the opening ceremony, the delegates split up into 20 committees where they debated world issues, negotiated with other teams and eventually passed a “UN Resolution” to end the session.

Having spent three years as a member of MUN, Dudley has discovered the key skills needed to thrive at a conference.

“Even though the United Nations is not built to be a competitive party, I would compare MUN to any other academic team where you’re trying to win first place,” he said. “MUN also teaches you how to lead a group as efficiently as possible. Being able to speak confidently and lead effectively are the two pillars of being successful in a MUN competition.”

After another successful LYMUN conference, Braun had a message to send to high schoolers looking to pursue a path similar to hers.

“Understand that life is about reaching outside of yourself to make things better for somebody else,” she said. “If you stop navelgazing and get involved with the community, you can’t help but get involved with public affairs on one level or another. Diplomacy just happens to be on an international level, but there are national and local issues as well.”

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