I, as a rule of thumb, am not one to rush into something. That maybe why it took me exactly one month to write a recap about one of the most fantastic projects I have had the privilege of working on here in Ukraine. This hesitation is also why I was initially uncertain of the feasibility of such a large and ambitious project as which I am about to describe. But as is often the case with my all beginning jitters, people have impressed me and results have amazed me. In December, 2013 Donetsk experienced its premier Model United Nations. It was a pleasure to see the action first hand and to play a small part in the creation of this spectacular, international event.
To give some background, we must first talk about the beautifully crafted city that is Odessa. In August 2013, Peace Corps Volunteers held the first annual MUN (Model United Nations) in Odessa. Our goal was to create an affordable, life changing experience that would allow Ukraine’s youth to learn about international relations, practice their English, and relax on one of Ukraine’s best beaches, all at once. Just like the first ever DRMUN (Donetsk Regional Model United Nations), our camp was a success. But how did the conference travel from Odessa to Donetsk, one may ask. The answer is that a single student who had initiative took the matter into her own hands and contacted individuals in Donetsk that she knew already had experience with MUN. The Peace Corps camp introduced her to MUN, but the peers whom she found at Donetsk National University were already deeply involved with MUN and other issues such as taking lead roles in their community and actively learning about domestic politics.
The result was a two day event that featured mostly local students from the Donetsk oblast but also included Ukrainians from the west and several foreigners including American, Australian, and African. There were three committees that each tackled important contemporary issues such as privacy vs. national security, conflict borders, and matters regarding the UNSC (United Nations Security Council). Mock resolutions were passed which allowed the students to step into the shoes of powerful politicians from an array of diverse countries as they worked to better understand the most significant issues of our day.
It was an honor to work on this project with the Donetsk National University and their center for international studies. Their students and staff proved very educated and professional, as did our Ukrainian and international participants. I can only hope that this was not the last DRMUN and that others will consider joining us next August in 2014 in Odessa for the next installment of Model United Nations in Ukraine!
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