The annual event was held this year from March 11th to the 15th in Singapore. It is a mock simulation of real ASEAN meetings. “MUIDS has attended this event for several years now,” Ms. Kitiya Le Huu, one of the students’ faculty advisors explained. “It is great opportunity for our students to meet other students from other ASEAN nations while learning and practicing the art of reasoned debate.”
The first day of the event featured trainings on the basics of diplomacy, including how to set goals as well as formal language and procedures. “After the training,” Ms. Le Huu explained, “students receive discussion topics for the countries they are representing. They are then assigned to different committees to debate regional issues.”
“The goal for each student is to find a solution to a regional challenge, convince other delegates to support it, then get the committee to pass it as a resolution.”
The issues MUIDS students debated included state-sanctioned, extrajudicial killings within different countries, deforestation in developing countries, and the growing, illegal drug trade affecting ASEAN nations.
“Our M.U.N. students attend events like this one throughout the year,” Ms. Le Huu added. “They drew from those experiences and debated well.”
Two MUIDS students that debated especially well were Jan (not her real name) who earned an honorable mention, and Bill (not his real name), who won best delegate.
“One of the reasons I was excited to go to this event,” Bill explained, “was the opportunity to meet people from different cultures. It was fun to spend time with the other students and discuss our different experiences in our home countries. We even taught each other some words from our native languages. I can still remember a few words in Tagalog from the Filipino students.”
These early exchanges later helped students debate difficult issues. “Bill represented China as a delegate,” Ms. Le Huu recalled. “One of the many things he did well was use his background knowledge to not only represent China, but to also share his insights about Thailand.”
“Some of the students weren’t aware of certain issues within the Golden Triangle,” Bill added, “mainly the way that farmers in the Golden Triangle make a living outside of the drug trade. I introduced these issues to them, helped them think more practically about their ideas, and convinced them to change their proposals.”
The event culminated with a trophy presentation by Dr. Bilveer Singh, an associate professor of Political Science at the National University of Singapore, and expert on regional security issues. Dr. Singh spoke about the importance of diplomacy in the modern world, a fact not lost on Bill.
“This event taught me that different people from different origins have different points of view. Understanding their point of view is the key to getting things done.”