Sophomore brings Model United Nations back to Emerson

Sophomore Marcel Truong-Chun revived Model United Nations at Emerson last semester after the club disbanded in the early 2000s. He participated in his high school’s Model UN club for three years where he learned the importance of political activism and diplomacy. By creating a Model UN club, Truong-Chun is building a learning experience about global politics at Emerson.

Truong-Chun and junior Minh Do lead Emerson College’s Model UN, also known as EmerMUN, as co-presidents. Truong-Chun said EmerMUN replicates the United Nations, an international organization that contains 193 sovereign countries, according to the UN website.

“It is a simulation of Congress, or any sort of decision-governing body,” Truong-Chun said. “You learn through negotiating with others or simulating what real-world debates are asking right now.”

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Currently, EmerMUN operates with 12 members, and five members on the executive board, Truong-Chun said. He said the executive board, aside from the co-presidents, do not have specific roles but do have a say on how EmerMUN operates.

EmerMUN holds meetings every other Thursday in the Max Mutchnick Campus Center of the Piano Row residence hall at 8 p.m. Their next meeting is Thursday, April 11.

EmerMUN is not recognized by the Student Government Association and does not receive funding from the college. Truong-Chun said EmerMUN’s funding comes from club members registering for Model UN conferences, but he hopes to find outside sources to fund next semester until they receive funding from SGA.

Truong-Chun said he started looking at organizations like Rotary International, a global network of 1.2 million members who support various causes such as providing clean water, to fund EmerMUN.

Gregory Payne, the Communication Studies Department chair, is EmerMUN’s temporary advisor until the club takes off.

“When [Truong-Chun] first started expressing interests, someone said, ‘Dr. Payne has done this before,’ so I said, ‘Sure, I’m more than happy to do it,’” Payne said.

Payne said he first started advising Emerson’s Model UN clubs in 1988. He said Model UN was discontinued at Emerson in the early 2000s because the members graduated and found interests in national politics instead of global politics.

Freshman Rachel Piatok, a member of EmerMUN’s executive board, said EmerMUN reflects the values of Emerson.

“I think a lot of people [at Emerson] are passionate and involved with politics and world events,” Piatok said. “As the club stays here and grows, it will become more important because a lot of the ideas and principles behind [Model UN] are important to the Emerson community.”

Truong-Chun said Model UN clubs enter themselves into local and national conferences where Model UN. members can debate and discuss on behalf of a country or person.

Since its comeback, the club attended one conference—the Harvard National Model United Nations, where they debated on fighting communism, preventing ethnic tensions, and preparing Malayan independence. He said EmerMUN represented Spain, Tunisia, and British army officer Sir Gerald Templer in the conference.  

EmerMUN will attend more local and national conferences if they become recognized by the Student Government Association and receive funding, Truong-Chun said.

There are four positions for students to role-play at conferences, Truong-Chun said. Students can choose to represent a delegate, press reporter, secretary, or committee chair.

Truong-Chun said delegates negotiate for committees, and press reporters represent specific news outlets and attempt to influence delegates’ decisions in a debate. Secretaries organize the conferences, and committee chairs moderate the discussion of a debate.

“The really important thing about Model UN is that part of it is having put aside your own decisions for your own opinion and embrace [and] understand the opinions [of] a country you’re representing whether [the opinion] agrees with you or not,” Truong-Chun said.

Piatok said she wants to see more people join EmerMUN. Truong-Chun said he plans for EmerMUN to do community work at high schools and establish a Model UN for younger kids.

“What I’m hoping we can do is take Model UN to a new level, make sure it is immersive because all our programs in the [communication] department tend to be immersive, whether it’s politics [or] sports” Payne said. “I think Model UN is an example of the spirit and the drive in the department.”

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