The Benilde Model United Nations (BMUN) represented the Philippines at the 2023 Harvard World Model United Nations (WorldMUN) in Paris, France on March 12 to 16. The delegation consisted of 26 students from the School of Diplomacy and Governance and their advisor, Ms. Shiela Mae M. Sabalburo.
WorldMUN is an annual international conference that brings together young leaders from different parts of the world to simulate the workings of the United Nations. The conference, hosted by Harvard University, is considered to be one of the largest and most prestigious Model United Nations (MUN) conferences in the world and is coined the “Olympics of Model UN,” attracting over 1,500 delegates from all over the globe.
Throughout the conference, participants engage in debates, negotiations, and problem-solving exercises that simulate real-world diplomatic situations. By taking on the roles of diplomats, delegates learn to develop their negotiation, public speaking, and critical thinking skills. The conference also provides a unique opportunity for delegates to network with peers from different cultures, nationalities, and backgrounds, fostering cross-cultural understanding and cooperation.
This year, BMUN was chosen to represent the Philippines at the WorldMUN. In an interview with The Benildean, the 24th BMUN General Assembly Chair Ian Vince Guina talked about his experience in participating in WorldMUN as the Head Delegate as well as their team’s preparation for the event. He shared that he was inspired to participate in WorldMUN as he had long wanted to participate in international conferences since he applied to the College in 2019. He saw the opportunity to represent both Benilde and the Philippines as a great blessing, and it motivated him to do his best throughout the training process.
Benilde’s Delegation to the Harvard WorldMUN consisted of the following members:
- Abanto, Maria Crisandra Y.
- Alquiza, Nicole Angelie B.
- Babar, Felisha Danna A.
- Baloy, Liza Aliana
- Calpito, Nyana
- Beltran, Yra
- Dellosa, Prince Alfred Dale D.
- Elagha, Nora
- Esluzar, Phoemela
- Enriquez, Timothy John D.
- Fajardo, Mikaela Mari C.
- Guina, Ian Vince Romulus
- Illastron, Jamaica Denisse
- Ilagan, Glian Piolo P.
- Lacson, John Elmer
- Luague, Juliene Alaina
- Mendoza, Justin Grace
- Nardo, Jan Maryam
- Puljanan, Theo Ray
- Puthenpurekal, Daniel
- Santos, Naomi Rhona
- Taño, Shawnray
- Ventura, Gallahan East A.
- Villareal, Gabrielle Elijah
- Yoto, Ri-an Angeli Alaisa
- Yutuc, Aira Fatima M.
However, preparing for the WorldMUN conference was no easy task. Guina explained that they went through a rigorous set of training sessions, covering various focal points in research and the delivery of their performance as delegates. As the Head Delegate, one of Guina's greatest challenges was aligning schedules for training with a delegation of 26 members. He shared that he overcame this challenge by keeping the team aligned and reminding them of their motivations and goals for both Benilde and the country.
“I personally have a preference for positive reinforcements rather than intimidation in leading others, and I would like to think that by constantly acknowledging the team’s efforts and strengths individually, they developed the natural desire to excel which brings initiative to do things with minimal supervision,” he explained.
During the conference, Guina and his team encountered numerous challenges, one of which was a canceled flight to Paris due to ongoing protests in France. Fortunately, their airline was able to make arrangements to divert them to Brussels, Belgium, before taking a bus to Paris, France. Despite these setbacks, they managed to remain optimistic and supported each other through it all.
Additionally, Guina shared that their delegation of 26 used a buddy system to divide tasks throughout the conference. They also held alignment meetings at the end of each day to ensure everyone was familiar with their schedules and venues for the next day. Transparency and constant communication were critical in allowing the delegation to work as one team despite adjustments that had to be made because of the protests in France.
Guina also provided insight for those who may be considering participating in a MUN conference for the first time. He said that MUNs are an interesting experience as you are simulating foreign policy on an international scale. “There is something about MUNs that naturally gets you into character when you’re in the same place as other delegates who each have their country’s national interest in mind with their own strategy on how to lobby these to others.”
Guina expressed his sincerest gratitude to the Benildean community for their support and prayers that gave them the courage to brave through the conference. He individually praised each member of the delegation for their achievements in the WorldMUN and said that because of their efforts.
“Benilde was able to finish strongly in the prestigious Harvard WorldMUN with passed resolution papers and a lifelong bond built on the principles of diplomacy that we can’t wait to put into application for the service of Filipinos in the future. Animo!”