The international event MUN (Model United Nations) is a simulation in English of the United Nations debates, in which each participant from the different schools takes on the role of delegate of a country. The programme involves drafting resolutions and then debating them, with the objective of reaching a general agreement with the rest of the participants. Agora Sant Cugat International School was the first school in the NACE Schools group to participate in IMUN (Iberian Model United Nations) held in Lisbon in 2010-2011. An internal version, named AMUN (Agora Model United Nations), was then created at the school. The first event was in 2013, the following year Agora International School Barcelona joined the programme, and in 2015 they decided to “take the plunge” by extending the conference to all the schools in the NACE Schools group, under the name of NACEMUN.
We had the opportunity to interview Elena Degollada, teacher at Agora Sant Cugat International School and creator of the successful international event, NACEMUN.
Elena holds a degree in English-German Philology from the University of Barcelona, though she combined her university studies with short and longer-term stays in the United Kingdom. She has dedicated practically her entire working life to teaching, which is also her passion. For the last few years she has combined the co-ordination of the MUN programme with her role as head of the foreign languages department at Agora Sant Cugat International School.
Q: Hello Elena. How did the idea of participating in IMUN on a school level come about? And the idea to develop AMUN?
A: Mr. Gandol, headmaster of Agora Sant Cugat International School, suggested that we attend the international event IMUN. I found it so interesting that I looked for a way that all pupils could participate in some type of United Nations simulation. The dual objective was that they were made aware of how a conference of this type works, and at the same time, it was training for the students who participate in other conferences in Baccalaureate. The experience was so successful that the next step was to take it to the entire international group and create NACEMUN.
Q: How many pupils participate from each school, and what preparation should they do in advance?
A: Around 10 4th ESO pupils from each school normally take part, as well as all the pupils from the same level at the host school. Before attending the conference they should undertake a thorough study of the country they are representing, they should prepare to draft resolutions, learn the procedures of Model United Nations sessions, and in addition, before the event they practice formal public speaking in English.
Q: What benefits are there for pupils who participate in NACEMUN?
A: There are many benefits. It helps them to interact with pupils from schools in the United Kingdom, France, and other parts of Spain; they learn to use very formal English; they improve their public speaking skills and acquire knowledge about today’s world. Furthermore, in having to work on and try to find solutions for real problems, they learn to understand and empathise with issues they probably weren’t previously aware of.
Q: And what does it contribute to the NACE Schools educational programme?
A: The project encourages the values as the NACE Schools educational programme. It promotes the values of openness, solidarity, integrity, commitment to the community. Similarly, it teaches more than academic content, and encourages the idea of educational excellence, to the extent that it develops the pupils’ communication abilities and social skills.
Q: What do the participants highlight most from this international event?
A: What they highlight most, and at the same time what surprises them most, is what a good time they have, even though at the start it might seem like lots of work and little fun. They also discover that formality is not at odds with entertainment, and that they can have a really good time doing serious work.
Q: What has creating the NACEMUN programme provided you with on a professional and personal level?
A: On a personal level I feel that I have learnt a lot, met lots of people, and achieved the satisfaction of seeing how my pupils also come to appreciate this type of events. On a professional level, I have had to balance the day to day of classes with organisation. Though it’s hard work, it’s been worth every minute dedicated to it.
Q: What do you think will be the future of NACEMUN?
A: Who knows? I see NACEMUN as something which will grow. Therefore, I suppose that in future editions perhaps we’ll incorporate other bodies such as the Security Council. Being ambitious, we could perhaps invite other schools to participate in our conference, making NACEMUN an international event recognised even outside the NACE group.