NTU Model United Nations:
A Crash-course on International Affairs

Dec. 18, 2017

Written By: Rosemary Chen (陳昱安)
Photo Credit: Zhen-Gang Huang (黃振剛)

Summary

The National Taiwan University (NTU) International College Provisional Office and the NTU Model United Nations Society (NTUMUN) co-hosted an English-only evening workshop on Dec. 18. The event was hosted by executive members of NTUMUN and invited Dr. William A. Stanton to join the discussions with student participants.

Introductions

“What do you think is the role of the United Nations (UN)?” the host asked. “To stop direct conflict, maintain peace and provide humanitarian assistance,” one student responded with certainty. “Human rights should be guaranteed,” she said, pointing to the recent refugee crisis in Myanmar where religious conflict has caused the displacement of civilians. Other students around the table were quick to join the discussion raising examples from current events to support their own ideas about the UN.

Such a discussion opportunity was made possible by the National Taiwan University (NTU) International College Provisional Office recent collaboration with the student society, NTU Model United Nations Society (NTUMUN). The two co-hosted an English-only two-hour workshop on Dec. 18 for local students to practice English public speaking and become more familiar with MUN. The event was hosted by executive members of NTUMUN and invited Dr. William A. Stanton to join the discussions with close to 15 student participants in attendance.

Topics discussed include contemporary issues with the United Nations, history of the Israel-Palestinian conflict and current international events such as North Korea’s missile crisis. “It’s an opportunity for Taiwanese students to practice English and learn about the United Nations,” said the co-host, Jason Liu (劉克賢), an executive member of NTUMUN.

A crash-course on international affairs

The event kicked off with Eric Zhang’s (張友睿), also an executive member of NTUMUN, presentation about how the United Nations worked —— everything from participating countries, veto power to the General Assembly committees. In between presentations, the host would pause for roundtable discussions, inviting students to share their opinions in English.

“Why is there yet an outbreak of World War III?” the host asked the group. “And is the UN to take credit?” he challenged the group to think beyond the obvious. Some students were at first shy to speak English but as the discussion grew people began to pitch in.

The second part of the presentation was delivered by Liu with a brief but comprehensive history of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

“This is a very deep and hard topic,” but with President Donald Trump’s recent move to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem, Liu finds all the more reasons to “help people understand the roots of the conflict.”

He began his story with the Zionist movements, followed by the 1948 Creation of the State of Israel, to the Middle Eastern Wars and ended on the Intifadas. He then invited the audience to discuss, “What’s the impact of Donald Trump’s decision?”

In response, one audience member asked what are Trump’s motivations and was answered by Dr. William A. Stanton pointing to the American president’s “conservative Christian supporter’s dream.”

Student take-aways

“This is my first time learning about the United Nations in depth,” said Bing-Ze Lin (林秉澤), a first-year graduate student at the NTU College of Medicine. He later asked members of NTUMUN how to join the club, “I would love to learn more,” he explained.

Another first-year dentistry student said she’s still exploring different clubs on campus. “I’m just trying everything out to see how I like it, you don’t know until you try, right?” But she thought international politics might not be for her. “One more thing crossed off the list,” she joked.

The NTU Model United Nations Society is the first student-run club dedicated to United Nations in Taiwan and also the first delegation to able to participate in WorldMUN conferences from Taiwan.

They are dedicated to helping students in Taiwan cultivate excellent language skills, gain international perspectives and convey the UN ideologies to students.

“In order to fulfill our mission, we have worked hard to provide enriching lectures to better prepare our members, invited famous speakers in hope of providing some enlightenment, and even participated in international Model United Nation conferences so as to attain valuable experiences that would help us in further our mission,” their Facebook page read.

They have also helped many other colleges and universities in Taiwan establish their own MUN related society and more recently broadened their audience to high school students, “our hope is to inform people in Taiwan what United Nations is all about.”

Having joined MUN since high school, Liu said he continues to be part of the community because “it’s a great way to learn more about the world.”

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