Blog post written by Jennifer Bachman, graduate student in the international Peace and Conflict master’s program, class of 2015-2016.
Model UN is by far my favorite class at the University of Haifa. It is also the one that I feel is offering me the steepest learning curve of any course I have ever taken. I’m not a big fan of sitting in classes in which professors preach at you; I learn best by hands-on participation, and Model UN is engineered to engage the student from the start. The instructors provide guidelines and offer tips for where to research and what to look for, but once you are assigned a country to represent, you’ve got to do the work yourself. It’s unlike other courses in that the person you are is very much a part of the course, as is your interaction with everyone else. In this way, you and your classmates shape the outcome every single time. It’s completely dynamic and, I feel, very much represents the way things actually work in the world.
In addition to the unique structure of the course, there is so much opportunity for personal growth and development. As a native English speaker, I am amazed at the willingness of those for whom English is not their first language to stand up in front of the class and offer thoughtful statements, engage in debate, and defend the positions of their assigned country. Even being a native speaker, I find myself challenged to think on my feet and offer my thoughts in a clear and concise manner. These skills are helpful in many careers.
Besides the academic benefits and personal growth opportunities, Model UN is the only course in the program in which I am interacting with – and socializing with – Israelis. The International School hosts students from around the globe, and getting to know people from over forty countries is definitely stimulating. But being in Israel, I certainly want to also interact with Israelis, and Model UN is the place I feel I am making good friends. Most do not live on campus (unlike most of the international students), so I now have local contacts – with cars! The Model UN class enriches the University experience in so many ways.
There is another element to Model UN that is unique amongst the classes – conferences. We have several conferences a year, throughout Israel and internationally. In January, the University of Haifa hosted a conference to which upwards of 200 delegates attended from other universities around the country. As a result of meeting students from other schools at this conference, a few weeks later some of us gathered in Tel Aviv to attend a unique dinner and theater show. Now I have contacts in other cities as well.
Which brings me to yet another terrific feature of Model UN: mandatory social events. Be prepared to join your classmates after a lesson for dinner and drinks at a local pub. It’s a must. Besides being fun, it really is great to know that after an intense session of debating real and relevant topics like the plight of Syrian refugees or how to deal with trafficking of prescription drugs, you can hang out with those you were ferociously attacking (verbally, mind you) just an hour before.
I cannot really think of anyone for whom Model UN would not be a superb addition to their coursework, but I definitely recommend it for anyone who likes to learn about other countries, is interested in working for an international organization, would like to improve their speaking skills and/or their English, or likes a challenge. The learning is intense, the speakers are interesting, and the game is fun. Who knows? You may even be chosen to go abroad for an international conference!
Interested in these types of opportunites? Join us for your graduate studies! For more information about the Peace and Conflict master’s program at the University of Haifa, please visit our website or feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.