Showstarter: Michael Wilson tapped as NAMUN 2015 keynote speaker

For a Conference with an American delegation of about 60 per cent, finding a keynote speaker that students both north and south of the border identify with is always a challenge. As former ambassador to the United States and University of Toronto alumnus, the Honourable Michael Wilson will be filling those big shoes at NAMUN 2015.

“...on the international scale, Michael Wilson has represented Canada on a number of occasions, including at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which is one of the committees being run at NAMUN 2015 this year," said Christine Jacob, Director General for NAMUN 2015.

"Through his first-hand experience with the IMF and other international conferences, I believe Michael Wilson will provide an engaging discussion of international and global politics for all delegates.” Wilson will be giving the keynote address at the Conference's opening ceremonies at Victoria College's Isabel Bader Theatre on February 19.

“Because this is NAMUN’s 30th anniversary conference, we wanted NAMUN to return to its roots at the University of Toronto," said Jacob. "As a University of Toronto and Trinity College alumnus, and current Chancellor of the University of Toronto, Michael Wilson is the perfect fit.”

Wilson graduated from the University of Toronto (U of T) in 1959 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. Since his graduation, he has often returned to contribute to his alma mater. He helped to establish the Cameron Parker Holcombe Wilson Chair in Depression Studies at the University of Toronto, has received awards from Rotman School of Management for his work, and was named U of T’s 33rd Chancellor beginning in 2012. After his three-year term, he was re-elected for a second term, and continues to devote time and energy to U of T.

Between accomplishments at home and abroad, Wilson has a political background to rival many.

“I believe that through these diverse experiences, the Honourable Michael Wilson can present an engaging outlook on global and international politics for delegates who attend our conference," Jacob said.

NAMUN 2015's Secretary General Larysa Workewych said that Wilson's relevancy to both Canada and the United States makes him an "ideal choice" for NAMUN.

“NAMUN’s delegate ratio annually is typically 40 per cent Canadian and 60 per cent American,” said Workewych. “Given the Honourable Michael Wilson’s previous position as the 22nd Canadian Ambassador to the United States, he perfectly bridges the Canadian-American separation."

Not only does Wilson's appointment as keynote speaker serve to connect Canadian and American cultures, but it also represents NAMUN's commitment to the history and tradition of the Conference, particularly for its 30th anniversary.

“In our interview with Kevin Talbot, NAMUN’s founder in 1985, it was learned that the University of Toronto’s Chancellor at the time, George Ignatieff, had a role in the conference’s inaugural opening ceremonies," Workewych said. "It’s only fitting to involve the University of Toronto’s current Chancellor in this year’s conference.”

Hail Bert, Emperor of Europe: Mock session offers preview of rapidly approaching conference

It looked like the real thing – a page constantly jogging from delegate to delegate, collecting instructions for troop movements, exactly one delegate taking the proceedings as seriously as if it were an actual war, students turned generals and kings struggling mightily to stop the march of Bert’s legions (Napoleon decided on a new name) across Europe. NAMUN 2015’s staff was ready and willing at the first mock session on January 30.

“The mock conference is over now, I can say that we have an amazing and knowledgeable staff and right now, all their kinks have been kicked out,” said Brian Malczyk, Director of General Assemblies (GA).

“We are fully prepared and looking forward to the actual conference.”

The staff rehearsed three committees during the dry run: DISEC (GA’s Disarmament and International Security committee), the Napoleonic Wars, and the Xinjiang Region. Staff assumed the roles of delegates in order to give their colleagues -- moderators in particular -- experience.

On a few occasions, particularly near the beginning of the the session, moderators and delegates stumbled over procedural rules.

“When you’re done, you’re done,” said Jennifer Eensild, Senior Academic Coordinator, explaining that delegates do not need to explicitly yield their time to the chair when closing contributions in Joint Crisis Committees (JCC).

Experienced staffers like Eensild were quick to share their expertise when their more junior colleagues had trouble deciding what to do next.

“I’m getting used to it,” said first-time Moderator Iryna Pokora, who led the People’s Republic of China committee (PRC) at the mock session. “So its kind of nerve-wracking right now but I’m learning.”

“Our aim is to make this MUN experience as memorable, as well as exciting, as possible,” said Areya Desai, Vice-Director of GAs.

The staff as a whole were themselves appropriately excited for the upcoming committees: “There are a broad range of topics, committees, and styles with very disparate mechanics. And they're all distinct from one another, for example the IMF has a very distinct experience in comparison to the Napoleonic Wars,” said Christian Paas-Lang, Director of Specialized Agencies.

As the mock conference neared its close, President Xi Jinping and his counsel were debating whether to go to war because of terrorist threats over a reality TV show.

NAMUN Alumni: Where are they now?

"It was a training ground.”

Michael Tian

Michael was first exposed to model UN during his high school years when he participated as a delegate in the Southern Ontario Model United Nations Assembly (SOMA), held at the University of Toronto. He was a frosh leader in his second year of study and was recruited to join NAMUN. At his first conference in 2008, Michael contributed to the administrative team as part of the conference services staff. In 2009 and 2010, he joined the Secretariat and continued to handle the administrative side of the conference. After he graduated from U of T, he served on the Board of Directors for a few years, continuing to help out with the conference in various ways.

“I met lots of people who had the same interests,” said Michael. He vividly remembers his Hart House farm trip with his NAMUN friends in the fall of 2010. “A big part of NAMUN for me was relationship building,” he added.

Originally, Michael studied international relations at U of T, but later switched to employment relations. After he graduated, he worked for the federal government for two years and is now working for TD Canada Trust.


Teresa Chan

When she first discovered NAMUN in 2000, Teresa was thrilled that she could continue her love for model UN. However, she soon discovered that NAMUN was more that just a model UN conference she organized, but a valuable asset she still treasures to this day. She participated in her first NAMUN conference as a moderator and became the Secretary General in 2002.

“You really bonded with people over the year. Every SG has a unique relationship with her staff. You bond with the people in your cohorts. You make some really good friends…It’s a monumental task in your 20s,” said Teresa.

In addition to the invaluable friendship that has stayed with her throughout the years, Teresa also found her passions while organizing the conference.

“You discover a lot about yourself. You learn how to be a grown-up even in a mock-situation," she said. "It was a training ground.”

NAMUN motivated her to pursue teacher education and later an MD degree.

“I love editing and helping people write better…I fell in love with multitasking. I knew at that moment that I wanted to triage. NAMUN gave me the skill set that is most important for balancing multiple catastrophes at a time.”

After graduating from U of T, Teresa joined a teacher training program for a year. She subsequently went to the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University and completed her ER residency at McMaster University. In addition to being an emergency physician, she is also an Associate Professor at McMaster University.

“I have about 17 jobs. It’s no different from when I was SG.”


David Meyer

David first joined NAMUN in 2003 and served as the Secretary General in 2005. Conference planning was a lot more challenging back then without social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

“We couldn’t get in touch with people via Facebook,” said David. “I remember searching for Model UN groups on Yahoo! Groups.” Nevertheless, organizing NAMUN has become one of his most rewarding experiences.

“It was amazing to see people who were such incredible models of professionalism and good nature. It’s really good to be surrounded by these people…[The conference] made me feel really gratified that people had good experiences.”

David pursed a degree in Canadian studies and history during his time at U of T. After graduation, he went to Ottawa to complete a Master’s degree in public administration. He has also worked for multiple government organizations, including Industry Canada and the Ministry of Health. He said his three-year experience at the Ministry of Finance is his “most NAMUN-like experience,” as it involves fiscal planning and budget drafting. He is currently manager of Capital Programs with the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment / Ministry of Research and Innovation.


Jonathan Cheevers

Jon joined NAMUN as a moderator in 2001. He continued to participate in the conference as part of the Secretariat until 2005, after which he served as president of the Board of Directors. For Jon, NAMUN was a huge influence.

“When we were working on Procedures for the General Assemblies…thinking about how we can make people understand minute details inspired me to go to teacher’s college. NAMUN also gave me the skills for problem solving.”

During his interview with the Advancement Officer at U of T, Jon was asked whether he could work through the U of T bureaucracy, “I thought to myself, ‘this is nothing compared to NAMUN. As students we dealt with office arrangement all the time.’”

After finishing his degree in International Relations and Canadian Studies, Jon started an internship in the advancement office after graduation. He then went to teacher’s college, and taught part time at Upper Canada College. He now works a full time job as a manager of Young Alumni and Student Outreach and strives to get young alumni involved in U of T after graduation.


Stephanie Thompson

Stephanie joined NAMUN as the editor of The Diplomat, the conference newspaper before it was replaced by The Emissary. In 2005, Stephanie co-chaired the historical International Court of Justice committee and became the Chairman of the Board of Director in 2006.

“NAMUN prepared me more for the adult world than anything in university. When people who did not know what NAMUN was asked me to explain the conference, I tell them it’s a crash course in event planning. You have 300 people coming. You book multiple rooms over five days. You don’t understand what we did over here.” Stephanie still keeps in touch with all her NAMUN friends.

“I’ve got friends everywhere now. You’ve been in the trenches together. You’ve been through a war you’ll never forget that.”

Stephanie studied history, English, and anthropology at U of T. She then completed a master’s degree at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. While in England, she decided that she really wanted to pursue a career in British television. She moved to London and lived there for four years while she slowly built up her career. Now she has moved back to Toronto and continues her career in the TV industry. 

Generally Speaking: Malczyk prepares GA staff for NAMUN 2015

Just weeks before the start of North American Model United Nations (NAMUN) 2015, Director of General Assemblies (GA) Brian Malczyk expressed faith in his team.

“I am confident that GAs will be ready for the conference on February 19,” said Malczyk at a January 21 training session. “Any minor kinks they still have will be worked out at mock NAMUN.” A mock NAMUN session was held January 30, during which Malczyk told The Emissary he was pleased with their progress.

The session began with a shoot by photographer Tina Zhou, followed by a dry run of a committee on international peace-keeping operations. “We’ve been endowed with very knowledgeable staff members,” Malczyk said.

The delegates demonstrated an impressive grounding in international politics, frequently referencing relevant current events to buttress their points. Malczyk led by example, starting and driving numerous discussions when the team fell quiet, speaking for both sides of some arguments.

A few of the kinks mentioned by the director managed to surface during the January 21 training session, however. “I don't even know where Yemen is,” exclaimed Kristen Shi at one point, in what was possibly a deft satire of U.S. foreign policy-makers (Shi was playing the delegate from the United States). Shi is the chair for Disarmament and International Security (DISEC).

Asked to describe what participants should look forward to, Malczyk replied, “we’ll see a lot of debate in the legal committee for sure because it’s on a topic that’s been neglected in model UN's: Drone warfare. We expect lots of exciting discussions on that.”

Shi, a first-year student, expressed similarly high hopes for NAMUN 2015's GAs, praising the Conference's logistics.

"I'm in all four of the model UN organizations, and I can say that NAMUN is definitely the most organized," she said. "You always know who to report to."

Boldly into the Future – NAMUN recognition grows as it enters university database

The North American Model United Nations (NAMUN) 2015 team IS among the first batch of student-run organizations to be recognized under the Co-Curricular Record (CCR), an official university database of extracurriculars that recognizes student achievement and participation in on-campus activities, such as clubs and employment.

"The CCR is a great tool for listing your involvement in the university outside of the classroom," said Larysa Workewych, NAMUN 2015's Secretary General. "This document can act as a supporting document to any resume, increasing the legitimacy of what you say you have done."

The CCR database began to develop a couple years ago, but this is the first year that student-clubs are eligible to apply. Students will now leave U of T not only with a diploma, but also a document that proves they got involved.

"The CCR does not just list your position, but also the skills that you obtained while you held that position," said Workewych. For now, recognition by the CCR extends only to NAMUN's executive positions -- "the positions that build recognizable skills." However, Workewych hopes that over the years all NAMUN staff positions will be added to the database.

"NAMUN is a unique organization at U of T because all of our positions build skills," Workewych said. "For this reason, the ultimate goal is to have all positions in NAMUN recognized by the CCR."

The CCR gives incentive to students -- particularly new students -- to get involved with on-campus organizations like NAMUN.

"Incoming students are more inclined to get involved with organizations that have this recognition to gain benefits associated with it," Workewych said.

"By the end of the year, students will be able to log into the CCR portal and search for positions based on skills, interest, or campus."

Students, like Workewych, who graduate this year won't benefit much from the CCR. However, she said it is important that NAMUN be recognized now so that other students will benefit down the road.

"For those NAMUN members that are currently in their first year at U of T, by their fourth year, they will have an official document that recognizes every activity they did," she said.

Wars to Win: Specialized Agencies ready for battle

In 1815, a final treaty was signed in Paris drawing the era of the Napoleonic Wars to a close. In its bicentennial year, North American Model United Nations (NAMUN) delegates will debate the same war -- but the outcome 2,000 years later remains to be seen.

"The delegates will take control of a European nation just as Napoleon crowns himself emperor in 1804," said Christian Paas-Lang, NAMUN 2015's director of Specialized Agencies (SA). "France is on the ascendency."

The Napoleonic Wars is just one of four SA committees that Paas-Lang calls "ridiculously awesome."

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is designed to "test the delegate's knowledge of economic policy and its impact on global affairs." Delegates jump into committee sessions at the height of the Eurozone crisis and in the middle of the first protests of the 2011 Arab Spring.

"The committee will have to juggle the demands of the of the failing European economies and the explosive economic consequences of revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East," Paas-Lang said. One of the things he said he finds most "intriguing" about the committee is that it will emulate exactly the voting structure of the IMF.

"With some adaptations, delegates will be given voting power based on the actual quotas for contributions used by the IMF," he said.

The third committee is the Mongolian Invasions, the second of SA's two "battle committees" (Napoleonic Wars being the first).

"These committees place greater importance on directives, but also leave room for intrigue and diplomacy, with unique resolution styles," Paas-Lang said. Delegates will play historical characters from the period, facing the imminent issues of the unification of Mongol tribes.

Finally, SA hosts the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

"It is the bread and butter of SA, and this year we are taking on a couple of great topics," Paas-Lang said. This year's delegates will take on ebola and its impact on West Africa, as well as the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict -- two of the "most potent, controversial, and dangerous issues of our time."

Paas-Lang said he's happy with the "mix of time periods, topics, and committee mechanics" -- not to mention an organized team of more than 25 staff.

"We've made great steps in figuring out the nitty gritty logistics and mechanics for each committee," he said. "Now training moves on to real simulations of the conference so we can make sure everything works well."

Paas-Lang touts his staff's teamwork, admitting that when he proposed this year's SA topics, he only had a "rough idea" of what they might look like.

"Together, we've had to build the structure of most of these committees -- its rules, its actors, its time period and scope -- from the ground up," he said.

If you're looking for the SA staff between now and February 19, they'll be "testing, tweaking, and reworking" to be sure the experience is "intense, rewarding, and fun for every delegate."

NAMUN 2015 delegate count set to reach decade high

Not in ten years has such a legion descended upon Toronto for North American Model United Nations (NAMUN).

NAMUN 2015's attendance currently stands at 288 delegates, according to Director General Christine Jacob.

“We have delegations from the University of Lethbridge, which is from Alberta; we have UBC coming. These are brand new schools. We have more of Canada being represented, as well as a number of returning delegations that we've had from previous years,” stated Jacob. “It's great to see all these new schools and returning schools coming back for our 30th anniversary.”

At this time last year, only 190 delegates were confirmed.

No mere observer, Jacob herself has been a key engineer of this success.

“I'm in charge of all registration, fees, delegate registration, contacting delegations about accommodations such as our hotel partnerships, as well as any promotions that we have for delegations like our WestJet package as well,” Jacob said, detailing her sometimes less visible, but crucial responsibilities. “I just deal with all the delegate registrations and delegate relations.” Few others have had a greater hand in NAMUN 2015's stellar delegate-count than Jacob's logistical maneuvering as Director General.

If that isn't enough welcome news, Jacob reports that preparations for the Conference, beginning just a little over a month away on February 19, are almost entirely ahead of schedule. Delegate registration and hotel accommodations have already been settled. The only thing left to be done is to finalize the keynote speaker, which Jacob is confident about settling in time.

The Director General explained that the Conference's annually record-breaking attendance has promising implications for NAMUN as an organization.

“Last year we had over 100 staff, and each year we continue to grow, so it's nice to see NAMUN growing within the community, as well as on an international scale with new schools coming,” she said.

Get excited for February, staffers. You're going to have more company this year than ever.

In Conversation with NAMUN founder

In 1985, a group of York University students won a Gold Medal Team award at Harvard National Model United Nations. On their flight back to Toronto, an ambitious one among them said to his faculty adviser, “we should have something like this in Canada.” The first university-level model UN conference in Canada was born. 

Today, Kevin Talbot, the founder of North American Model United Nations, is a Managing Partner of Relay Ventures, an investment company that focuses on mobile companies. Initially surprised that his creation 30 years ago is still going strong, Talbot very gladly agreed to a phone interview with the current Secretary General, Larysa Workewych.

“My faculty adviser said to me, ‘why don’t you do it?' And that’s how it started,” said Talbot. The conference began as a joint venture between the two departments of political science at York University and University of Toronto.

“We went out and raised donations of cash and in-kind. We had supports from one of the big consulting firms and law firms. HP shipped in computers and Xerox sent over two photocopiers. We went out and basically created everything from scratch. Air Canada donated airfares because we had a team from London School of Economics so they basically subsidized their flights,” said Talbot. 

Even though it was NAMUN's first year, 500 delegates attended the conference in 1986. 

Every school in Canada participated, together with LSE and a few U.S. schools. Without 21st century communication technologies, the team used more “old-school” methods.
“We mailed letters to every political science department in the country. We phoned them," Talbot said. "We went out to faculties and we encouraged them to create a course and some people came as part of that course.” 

The three-day conference was held at a two-storey Four Seasons hotel at Leslie Street and Eglinton Avenue. The delegates arrived on Friday, debated on Saturday, and the conference concludedon Sunday. The keynote speaker was the Canadian Ambassador to UN at the time, Stephen Lewis. A gala dinner was held on Saturday night and delegates were encouraged to wear the dress of the country they represented. Chancellor of U of T George Ignatieff and Chancellor of York U John Tuzo Wilson both sat at head table. 

To “model” the real United Nations, Talbot and his friends decided to run a midnight crisis for the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) committee. They found footage of hijacked airplane from TV archive and created a fake 11 p.m. news segment.
“It didn’t occur to any of us that we have made it so authentic that the hotel staff that were sitting in the rooms and pouring the water watched the TV…and we had a total meltdown at the switchboard of the hotel. They thought it was real. We got into a little bit of trouble for that.” 

Why call it “North American” model UN?

“One of my philosophies in life is that you’ve got to look bigger. The world is your market. When we named NAMUN, we didn’t want to call it the Canadian United Nations because that would be too limiting," Talbot said. "We wanted to attract schools from the U.S., so let’s think bigger."

JCC: training staff to think on their feet

Working on a Joint Crisis Committee (JCC) isn't your typical model UN (MUN) experience. The ritual raising of placards is replaced with international espionage, fast-paced decision-making, and incessant debates -- all aimed at outmaneuvering the other.

“Creativity and organization are essential in order to be a JCC staffer,” said the committees' director, Benjamin Pan. With unique topics, it is important to think on your feet in order to keep up with the speed of this committee, he said.

JCC consists of two independent subcommittees: Fueling the Future: Exxonmobil vs. Sinopec and the Xinjiang Region: People’s Republic of China vs. East Turkestan Independence Movement. The decisions made and actions taken immediately affect the evolving crisis at hand, providing an experience like no other.
While the complexity of JCC is consistent year-to-year, this 2015 committees look forward, rather than back.

“We do not have any historical committees this year," said Pan. "Instead, we chose a more futuristic position, which gives way to explore different scenarios and provides a scope for improved debate.” Debating issues surrounding both ongoing conflict and potential challenges in the future results in spreading awareness of pressing issues that often go ignored, and gives students to have a "say" in the future of the world.

“This year we have the opportunity to write history instead of just be a part of it and I think that’s pretty great,” said JCC staffer Anah Mirza of the topics.

During a November 21 training session, JCC staffers were given the chance to "try out" the two topics, giving them an opportunity to interact with one another before choosing the group they favored the most. Each staff member is responsible for coming up with a different crisis situation to offer delegates an unpredictable, volatile, and undoubtedly exciting experience. Most of the discussions revolve around creative ways to present the crisis situation to the delegates.
“JCC is definitely the most energetic committee to be a part of, which is why it was my only option,” said Mirza, who worked in conference services last year.  

The job of a JCC staffer is a tedious one: while they need to be quick on their feet, they must also have an academic background and competent research abilities, as they are responsible for setting the backdrop for debate.

Pan said his staff's skills really improve over the course of the conference.
"Since organization and management are key, the staff see themselves become more efficient especially in those areas,” he said. Along with discussing matters of association and crisis development, members of the committee seem to have become a sort of family and are without a doubt one of the liveliest committees in the conference.

Home, sweet home for the conference

The 2015 North American Model United Nations (NAMUN) Secretariat is pleased to announce that the Toronto Marriott Bloor Yorkville Hotel will once again host the conference's delegates.

Ifath Fatima, the Operations Deputy Secretary General, said she is excited to renew ties with the hotel.

“NAMUN has partnered with the Marriott in the past and that's helped us build a fantastic relationship with them," she said. "Given that we're celebrating our 30th anniversary, it seemed fitting to partner up with the Marriott again.”

With all the hard work and excitement that comes with NAMUN, it is important to have a comfortable and relaxing place for delegates to catch their breath.

The hotel is a 10-minute walk to the University of Toronto's historic Victoria College, the venue for NAMUN 2015. It is also close to many attractions, such as the Royal Ontario Museum, and is connected to the subway system, making it easy for delegates to explore Toronto. 

The Marriott has offered NAMUN delegates a discounted rate of $155 for both Deluxe Queen and Executive rooms, which includes complimentary WiFi. The hotel will be used for more than accommodation, however. Both the first night’s Head Delegate Reception and the last night’s Closing Ceremonies will be held at the hotel. It will also be what Fatima calls the “logistical base” for the evening events for delegates and staff.

“The hotel isn't just an accommodation for NAMUN delegates, but is very much a part of the fabric of the conference,” she said.

The Marriott, too, will benefit from this partnership. Located close to many universities, building ties to students is important for its business and reputation. Not only will the Marriott get more exposure within the U of T community, to delegates from out of town who will remember the hotel by their experience at NAMUN.

At this point, plenty of rooms are available, however Fatima suggests delegates from out of town book sooner rather than later.

“We do anticipate rooms will book up quickly so we encourage delegates to take advantage of the discount we're offering,” she said.

An Anniversary, Another Anniversary, and Kim Il-Sung

NAMUN's All-Staff Meeting Kicks off Conference Preparations

The Charter of the United Nations entered into force on October 24, 1945. On its 69th Anniversary, the 2015 North American Model United Nations (NAMUN) staff met in the Bahen Centre for its first meeting.

Secretary-General Larysa Workewych expressed her hopes and expectations for this year’s Conference at the beginning of the evening, urging staff members to cherish the friendships they'd make and experiences they'd have.

“When you join NAMUN, you're not just joining a club," she said. "You're joining a community.” After Workewych’s speech, the staff divided into nine teams to compete to build the best Play-Doh sculpture of a famous landmark, icon, or symbol.

The results ranged from a collapsing statue of Kim Il-Sung, symbolizing North Korea’s collapsing regime, to a Big Mac with fries in homage to the world's globalized, capitalist society, to the album cover of Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda.” Ultimately, a monument of Godzilla ravaging the city of Tokyo stole the spotlight and the prize. At the end of the competition, it was clear that NAMUN is a Conference built on a strong sense of community, with a healthy mix of class and sass.

Most members of the team come to the Conference with their own goals, from the desire to gain experience and meet new people, to the ambition to outdo previous years’ secretariats in hosting a fantastic Conference.

Would You like fries with that? - by NAMUN 2015 Staff

This is a special year for the North American Model United Nations team. The 2015 edition will be the 30th Anniversary of the Conference. Schools from McGill, to Brown, to the London School of Economics, and so many more have attended and have loved past conferences. The NAMUN team hopes that this year will be its finest effort yet.  

Everything in Moderation

Training begins for NAMUN leaders

“Would you rather eat grass or garbage?” was one of the questions asked to prompt moderators in a public speaking exercise at an October 28 training session. The goal? To be able to speak confidently on an assigned subject for one minute without stopping.

Each week, 2015's North American Model United Nations (NAMUN) moderators convene at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education for their training sessions to learn the rules of procedure of NAMUN and gain experience commanding a room. After going through the basic steps of how to begin a committee session, Directors of Procedures and Training Wyatt Shorter and Adriana Workewych explained to the moderators how the Primary Speakers List (PSL) works. Moderators are responsible for ensuring the PSL does not exhaust and that no country to appears twice in a row on the list. Moderators must always remember to use a formal tone while moderating and to make sure delegates are using the proper formalities when addressing their respective committee’s dais. The moderator and the delegates must always refer to themselves in the third person – “we” and “I” cannot be used when addressing committees.

Public speaking skills were strongly emphasized at this training session. Shorter told the assembled moderators that they must be able to speak fluidly and clearly. A significant part of the moderator’s job is to keep control of the committee and the committee room – speaking confidently is key to maintaining authority. To assist the moderators in practicing their public speaking skills, Shorter and Workewych ran a public speaking exercise where the moderators had to speak about a random assigned topic for one minute without stopping. Other than the garbage vs. grass debate, other sushi and superpowers were among the other topics covered. During this exercise, NAMUN’s moderators demonstrated excellent public speaking abilities. Rounding out the training session was a short question and answer period where the moderators could get clarification on any lingering questions.

Game On for NAMUN

Are you ready for 30?

Staff are hired, training sessions are scheduled, the venue is booked. Preparation for North American Model United Nations' (NAMUN) 30th anniversary Conference is underway.

"It's a fantastic year to pay tribute to what has made NAMUN such a unique Conference in the past, but also highlight the rapid growth NAMUN has been experiencing in the last couple of years," said Larysa Workewych, NAMUN 2015's Secretary-General. The number of delegates at NAMUN has increased from year-to-year, and the trend is expected to continue.

"We're definitely aiming to beat 300 delegates this year," she said. Delegates drive, bus, and fly from all over Canada and the U.S. to debate at Canada’s oldest university-level Model United Nations conference.

"NAMUN has renewed its partnership with WestJet to give our delegates a discounted rate for flights in our attempt to make our conference as affordable as possible," Workewych added.

The Conference will be held at the University of Toronto's historic Victoria University College February 19 to 22, 2015.

While NAMUN has evolved over the last 30 years, the organization prides itself on its consistency.

"What makes NAMUN wonderful is the fact that you can expect the same experience every year," Workewych said. But the same experience certainly doesn't mean the same committees. "NAMUN has a history of providing delegates with interesting and engaging committees, and this year is no exception."

The Conference will run a number of new committees, which Workewych notes she is "personally very excited about." Some delegates will debate controversial current issues like the possibility of the world reaching "peak oil", the point at which oil extraction will begin to decrease, by 2026. Others will get the chance to enter into a time in history with committees on the Napoleonic Wars and the Mongolian Invasions.

Conference favourites like the United Nations Security Council and Disarmament and International Security Committee, and more traditional UN committees such Special Political and Decolonization, Social, Humanitarian and Cultural, Legal, and the International Monetary Fund will return for NAMUN 2015 as well.