Chafee finds community and career experience in Model UN


Flickr Creative Commons: sanjit

Students emulate international communication through model UN.

Lucy Sandeen, The Rubicon Editor

Senior Roan Chafee first became aware of Model UN when SPA alum Stephanie Frisch gave an announcement at an assembly in 2016. Because of his interest in policy, he decided to sign up for it to try it out, and then, “I just kept signing up,” Chafee said.

Model UN conferences typically take place around the end of March. This year’s conference was from March 28 to 30.

“Model UN is very much an evolving thing,” Chafee said. “It responds to the circumstances around it. During my first year, which was 2016, America took a very different global stance from previous years. A lot of the delegates from the US were taking that more protectionist stance.”

Model UN is very much an evolving thing.”

— senior Roan Chafee

This year, topics included Yemen and biological weapons, among other things.

Chafee participated in the Model UN General Assembly for his first two years. In General Assembly, delegates receive topics and formulate resolutions. This year, however, Chafee was in Security Council.

“In Security Council, you have a lot more power than the other committees of the UN, and you also have to deal with more issues. We dealt with a very specific, fictional crisis situation where there had been a bombing and Yemen of humanitarian aid for the UN and we had to respond. They got us up at midnight, and we debated until two in the morning about it, it was great,” Chafee said.

Model UN is important for similar reasons as to why the debate program is important, Chafee said. “It teaches you a lot about public speaking, about being in front of a crowd, about working with teammates,” Chafee said.

It teaches you a lot about public speaking, about being in front of a crowd, about working with teammates.”

— Roan Chafee

What sets it apart from debate, however, is its global relevance and collaborative nature.

“It gives you a very intense look at a global scale, which is hard to get in basically any corner of the world. It’s hard to think about the entire globe, as something you have to take care of. But Model UN helps you with that. And debate is… a competition, but in Model UN, everyone’s goal is to pass something. So it’s very cooperative. And it teaches cooperation and negotiation very well, which is an extremely useful skill,” Chafee said.

Chafee is interested in pursuing politics as a possible career. He has experience with political volunteering.

“Anyone who’s met me has heard me talk at length about it,” he said.

He thinks that Model UN will help prepare him for politics as well.

“I think it’s great to have that kind of compromise and negotiation skills because that’s something that I think is sorely missing in our current political world. But at the same time, if you want to be prepared for the realities of politics, Model UN probably isn’t your best bet. Because the Frank truth of it is, is that pretty much everybody’s against each other in actual politics,” Chafee said.

Chafee would recommend Model UN to anyone who is considering doing it because of its community, collaborative and cooperative facets, and experiential value. And newcomers need not be able to name every major world leader and event in the past year; all you need is a broad knowledge of world events and history because the Model UN committee facilitates research and preparation for the conference.