Recruiting for your Model United Nations team is the most important aspects of managing a successful team. Your Model UN team is only as strong as the students you are able to recruit. For the team to excel, you will want to make sure you get dedicated students who will be willing to put in the work for a successful team. This article will walk through some recruiting tips, beginning with building a team from scratch. Just remember, if you lay a good recruiting foundation the first year you will open the way for good recruiting every subsequent year.
Starting a New Club From Scratch
Finding the Students
Recruiting the first year will be the toughest. Since this is a new club at your school, nobody will know about it. Most of the students will have little understanding of what the United Nations actually is, much less about what it does or how Model UN works. The first step for you will be to generate interest. There is always a base of students willing and able to do Model UN, you just have to find them.
To find interested students you should look at other speech related clubs at the school. Are there similar competition clubs? Is there a Mock Trial or Debate Team? Not only will Model UN appeal to these same students, if you do this right, you can discover a whole new range of interested students who would prefer Model UN to these activities because this offers things these other games do not.
You will want to set up a general information meeting very early in the school year. Posters and information flyers should be distributed. You can also set up an information booth if there is a beginning of year club fair. Another option is to arrange for an announcement to be made every morning over the official school announcements while at the same time creating and posting flyers to post around school. Here is a link to a sample flyer you can amend and use. You can also create your own. Click here to look at the flyer. Make sure your advertising has a location for the initial meeting clearly stated.
If we advertised well, you may have more students than will actually end up on the team show up at the initial meeting. You need to use this meeting to explain what Model UN is, the skills it teaches and how you plan for it to progress throughout the year. To test the waters, you can ask the students what they know about the United Nations. This will give you an early idea about how much instruction you will need to provide. Tell them how often you plan on meeting. Once a week early in the year, maybe moving to two meetings a week as the conference approaches, is usually a good place to start.
Have a short letter ready for students to send home to their parents, or guardians, explaining what the Model UN team is and its benefits. This is where you want to make an appeal to the benefits of the program. For parents, along with the travel, enjoyment of the program and skills learned, another benefit can be how Model UN will look on college applications. Some of the students are already thinking about that. That is why some of them are there. Rest assured, the parents will love hearing that. Click here for a copy of a sample letter for parents.
It would be a good idea to weed out those who are serious from those who are not early in the process. Assigning a short one-page paper to all of the students at the meeting about why they want to be a part of the Model UN team would be a good idea. Have them turn it in to you before the next meeting if they want to participate. Have a second meeting already scheduled and give the meeting time and date to the students before they leave the first meeting. If you do not plan the next meeting ahead of time, you will have a very difficult time getting them to a second meeting. High schoolers are often overwhelmed with extracurricular activities, so make this as easy as possible for them.
At the second meeting, you will end up with what will likely be your dedicated bunch. These will be the students who have turned in their papers and are genuinely interested. The point of the papers is not to exclude interested students, but rather to week out the ones who do not want to put in any effort. Make sure to get each student’s names and grade level. Grade level is important. While you will want seniors on your team, the seniors this first year will not be your building blocks for future years. Year after year, you need to ensure your freshmen are nurtured. The freshmen you recruit for the first year of the team have the potential to be around for four years. Imagine how strong and capable they will be by the time they are seniors. Focusing on freshmen every year will ensure sustainability for the following years.
Building the Curriculum
Once you have students in your club you will need to choose how to build the program. For first timers it is most important teach them the important core skills of Model UN. The most important lessons can be sees in our Guide Index under Core Classes.Ideally, you will teach a new core class every other week with workshops and simulations in between. For example, you would teach a class on speech writing and follow it up with a simulation which works on what you learned.
Signing Up for Conferences
In addition to the structure of your weekly training, a good pull for delegates could be signing up for an Model UN conference in an interesting place. Also, some conferences need applications sent at the beginning of the year and now that you have your initial numbers, you can select your country or countries. Be mindful of the number of students each country calls for. A country like China or the US will call for many more student representative than the Malawi or Ecuador. This is due to the number of committees each country will be required to sit on. Plan wisely. You will most likely run into some students dropping out due to scheduling conflicts or them realizing that this is not something they are really interested in. If you need ten students for the country you want, make sure you have fourteen to fifteen students on your team. If nobody drops out and you have extra, even better. You can always establish support positions for some students to help during the year and on conference day. Rest assured, conference day will be busy and you will be happy to have the help.
Starting Regular Particles
Your third meeting, the first meeting with your base group of students, should be fun yet instructional. You need to give a brief view of the United Nations in general. You should also try to get the students excited about the upcoming year. Have a fun but simple activity planned for this day, perhaps to do even before you get started on instruction. In our article titled MUN Classroom Activities, we have a list here of activities you can use throughout the year for team-building and instructional purposes. Try out one of the activities marked as easy for beginners. They are rated by difficulty and give a description of the resources you need for each.
Now that you have recruited for the year, maintaining the team is the most important job. Keep team morale high and work on team building activities to grow and strengthen bonds. As the team sponsor, if you are excited about this, then your students will be as well. Have your school administration come to some of your meetings so they can see what you are building and so the students can see the support they have. Most of all, enjoy the process. Your team is built, now get them ready for the conference.