Less than two years after its formation, the Yale-NUS International Relations and Political Association is hosting the Yale-NUS Asia Pacific Model UN — its first large-scale Model UN conference — this week.
The conference, which will take place from Jan. 23 to Jan. 25, will host 1,200 students from almost 40 countries. It will feature the traditional Model UN format, in which participants are assigned to represent countries, in addition to two kinds of committees new to the Singaporean Model UN — a mock ASEAN Regional Forum and an Iran Hostage Crisis Committee. The event’s ASEAN Regional Forum, modeled after the Asia-Pacific security forum by the same name, will be conducted entirely in Mandarin, while the Iran Hostage Crisis Committee, in English, will allow participants to act as U.S. and Iranian government officials and reenact the Iran Hostage Crisis.
In addition, the conference will feature a panel discussion with global leadership experts and a closing gala dinner. Ajinkya Chougule YNUS ’18, one of the conference’s deputy secretary generals, said he and his peers want this conference to be one of the largest in its region.
“As experienced MUN-ners, we realized that not everyone in the region is fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel to the United States or Europe to participate in high-quality, academically rigorous Model UN conferences,” Chougule said. “Thus, the purpose of the YNC-AP MUN 2015 conference is to create one such conference right here in Singapore, and in the process make Yale-NUS a hub for international relations in Asia.”
YIRPA hosted its first major event, the Yale-NUS Model ASEAN, in August 2014. This was the first premier conference organized by a Singaporean university for high school students on Southeast Asian politics. Chougule said that because this summer’s event took place on a much smaller scale, it served as good opportunity for YIRPA to learn and grow. He also said planning for this weekend’s conference began in early 2014.
Andrea Lee YNUS ’17, another deputy secretary general of the conference, said this weekend’s conference will become YIRPA’s “annual flagship event.”
Student organizers interviewed all said the most challenging part of planning the event was finalizing its logistics.
“A conference for 1,200 people means 1,200 moving parts, and there are just so many things to take into consideration, from food to transportation,” YIRPA president Walter Yeo YNUS ’17 said.
However, Lee said the camaraderie and dedication among YIRPA students has made the planning process much more manageable.
Yale-NUS Director of Leadership and Global Citizenship Fiona Kanagasingam, who also serves as an advisor to YIRPA, said that although she has worked with YIRPA members to strategize for events, the planning of this conference has been almost entirely student run.
“YIRPA has put together the upcoming Yale-NUS Model UN Conference highly independently, requiring minimal involvement on my part in their planning and logistics,” she said. “They execute their mission through dedicated student-led committees, for everything from logistics to outreach. The scope and potential impact of this conference is testimony to their distinctive drive, initiative and level of organization and professionalism.”
Similarly, Yale-NUS Dean of Students Kyle Farley said this conference has shown student initiative and willpower. However, he also said the level of dedication students demonstrated in planning this conference is not confined to YIRPA, but rather symbolic of the student body’s mentality as a whole.
Though the dean of students is involved with student funding, Farley said the majority of funds for this conference have come from outside donors. According to the conference’s website, over 20 donors have helped support the conference, including the National University of Singapore, Singapore Airlines, Topshop and BCBG Max Azria.