"Earning a scholarship for an international MUN was a great chance to invest in myself"
Hello everyone! I am Cèlia Burrel, and I am studying a degree in Mathematic Engineering in Data Science and a Minor in Humanistic Studies in Thought.
I did the United Nations course when I was in my first year in university, as I have always had a great interest in international relations. I knew it was an odd choice of a course for someone doing a degree in Engineering, but I also acknowledged the opportunity to complement my technical studies with humanistic knowledge that could make my job more meaningful for our world.
I have long held the belief that despite the fact that in school we are taught a great divide between humanities and science, they are both complementary in bettering humanity. I was also curious about the United Nations as an institution, considering the dissimilar views that different groups and individuals in particular have towards it and its role in the current world order. It is a body that everyone has heard of but very few understand and the United Nations course helps us not to make foolish statements as “the UN is useless”.
After doing the course, I can truly say that the United Nations is not useless. For decades, it has been implementing policies that are preventing the suffering of millions of people all around the globe. In addition, the course has helped me connect the dots between data, technology and international affairs. To respond to the global challenges with both technical and political knowledge, the world needs experts in every area.
Here is where we need to add science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) into the equation, which, from my perspective, is key for the path that we need to take in the following decades: we need people that know how to implement the best medical and technological policies in an international level and we also need technology strategists that ensure that new advances are used for the greatest good of humanity instead than for selfish greed and mutual destruction.
We are in need of institutions that reflect and embody this vision and people that can see both sides to ensure that technology and data are an instrument for growth and not destruction. We need people like Linus Pauling (Peace Nobel Prize in 1963 for the “Hiroshima Appeal” against nuclear weapons), like Lise Meitner (she was among the women who tried to stop the use of atomic bombs) and like Alfred Nobel (founder of the Nobel Prize with the capital he had obtained from his numerous patents, including the gas meter and dynamite). This is what this course offers.
Taking part in the United Nations course has been a journey that, I must say, started rather tricky for me. I was assigned being the Delegate of North Korea in my first simulation when the topic to discuss was “Death Penalty”. Representing a country with such a pronounced line of thought and action was definitely a challenge for an inexperienced delegate, but I am grateful for the support that UNSA Barcelona offers during the training sessions.
The Metacurs was a great help for understanding the different procedures of the debate, which allowed me to perform to the best of my ability. Once I was selected, I had the opportunity to be mentored by a member of UNSA who helped me develop my abilities; abilities that are not only useful for what we do in MUNs but for the real world as well.
Having been offered a scholarship to an international MUN, which was sadly postponed by Covid-19, was an amazing opportunity to invest myself in the world of international relationships and to meet new people. Let me make a brief stop here to highlight the high-quality friendships I have developed thanks to the course (and UNSA more broadly)! I’m honoured to have met some of the kindest and most admirable people in my life during this journey.
If I must point out what is that has helped me most of the training offered by UNSA, it has to be the confidence to speak in public. There is a lot of work that is involved in preparing a debate of such dimensions, but no matter how hard you work there are moments in which that is simply not enough, and we have to rely on other skills such as improvisation, rapid connections between ideas and a good way with words. Having good oratory skills is sometimes the key to getting what you want, both in a MUN and in the real world.
I do not wish to diminish the other skills that we need for MUNs: being hardworking, conducting good research, being able to structure information, having good drafting skills and achieving a great knowledge of English. Quite surprisingly, a skill that I did not expect to find here but that I am glad I have is patience and calmness: it is easy to get emotional about the way that a debate is heading after spending so much time working on a topic, and in this sense, emotional control becomes extremely useful.
On another note, soft skills can make a difference when getting a job or not in many highly competitive industries nowadays, and doing MUNs can be a way to ensure future employers that you have not only developed those differential, necessary skills, but that you also carry a significant knowledge of the world outside your chosen speciality. Having said that, I firmly encourage you to take the course! It will set you out to acquire and reinforce a range of hard and soft skills that will be of extreme help for your future career and for your advancement and navigation along its course.
On a final note, I would like to state that the course helped me acquire something that has motivated me to engage in other interdisciplinary activities and take on further challenges: the tools to further connect disciplines, such as the ones involved in social initiatives and in the international affairs industry. For instance, let’s take a look at data. We have been hearing that data is the new oil for a decade now, but I think it is much powerful than that; oil has been the reason behind multiple political conflicts, but data can be used as the medium to justify any political ambition. Here we can observe that what gives data power is its use, in this case of political nature, after thorough interpretation.
The broad and complex mix of areas involved in the matter shows us the aforementioned need to establish a connection across disciplines but also, given the risks involved in the event of failure in connecting all the dots (have the ethical considerations been taken?), the need to have institutions and individuals within them who advocate for that technology is purposefully used for the prosperity and well-being of humanity.
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