We first attended The Hague International Model United Nations (THIMUN) in 2003 and, as MUN became quickly popular among our students, we were delighted when it was announced that THIMUN was establishing a sister conference in Singapore. So, in 2004 a fairly large group of 22 students took our MUN programme to the first THIMUN Singapore conference. For MUN at KKG this was actually a defining moment, since it was at this conference in Singapore that our students really overcame their initial timidity and began speaking out with clarity and confidence during lobbying and debate.
We attended the Singapore conference as part of our MUN program for the three following years before pushing further afield to try our hand at the slightly different version of MUN practiced in the U.S. However, with the success of our Junior MUN progamme since its foundation in 2012 we found that there was a discontinuity between our junior conference for jhs-1 and jhs-2 students and the senior conference, THIMUN at The Hague. So now, in 2016, with a group of 14 students drawn mostly from jhs-3 and hs-1 attending THIMUN Singapore 2016, we’re back.
As a kind of a homecoming, it was pretty much as close to a celebration as an MUN conference can get. It is really astounding to see the progress we have made since those early days back in 2003 and 2004. In the intervening years, the early trickle of questions and speeches during debate has turned into a steady stream. A student raising a placard and addressing the room is no longer a surprise, rather it has become the norm. Those years have seen KKG supply THIMUN with two committee chairs; many clauses for resolutions; a good number of amendments to resolutions and countless comments, questions and speeches. Yet until this conference we had managed only once, back in 2010, to have a student as the main submitter of a resolution. In 2016, as well as one of the highest tallies of questions and speeches we have ever amassed at a conference, KKG students were the main submitters of two resolutions, both of which passed the vote of their respective committees - altogether, a formidable achievement.
During the first day of lobbying it was clear that this group was gearing up to a good showing. Instead of hanging back at the corner of the discussion groups many of the students could be found taking an equal part in the lobbying process, some were even at the centre of it. Then came the news that our student in GA2 was preparing to be main submitter and then, after a long and hard-won dispute with another delegation, our students were also chosen to take the floor as main submitters in ECOSOC. During the ensuing debates in each committee KKG students rose repeatedly to speak - each student, all with varying abilities, took their moment. Those who could, spoke and fielded points of information from the floor - the ultimate test of confidence in yourself and knowledge of the resolution under debate. Then to the final GA Plenary Session when about 1000 students come together on the last afternoon to debate, even here in the tensest MUN arena, KKG students advanced to question the speaker more than ever before.
The reasons behind this outstanding performance are varied and difficult to define. Experience certainly played its part, with some, even in the jhs-3, approaching veteran status due to participation in multiple MUNs through our Junior MUN and in-house MUNK programmes. The group dynamic was good, friendly with just the right amount of competitive edge. An SNS group we set up to communicate during conference is indicative in its messages of support:
K:”I’m nervous abrout questions”,
Y:”S. scored again! She’s on a roll!”,
M:”Way to go!”.
Most of these students are products of KKG higher level English classes, where conversation and contention are encouraged. Possibly, this generation of students is benefiting from the incipient effects of KKG becoming an SGH school. Certainly, the more chance they have to express themselves in school life, the greater their motivation and confidence will grow. Now we are back, let’s hope more hands go up to comment and to contest.