Youths for a Collaborative World

The inaugural Yale-NUS Asia Pacific Model United Nations (YNC-AP MUN) hosted about 1,200 students representing over 40 nationalities who came together for the three-day conference where they engaged in debates on current affairs and forged many cross-cultural friendships.

The ballroom was filled with student delegates, many waving their table cards enthusiastically in their attempts to get their questions answered by Minister for Law and Foreign Affairs K Shanmugam. This was the scene during a closed-door ministerial dialogue as part of the closing ceremony of the conference held by Yale-NUS College from 23 to 25 January 2015.

Mr Shanmugam hoped that the conference had contributed towards moulding each student into a future leader. “The idealism of the youth has got to be captured in its full essence for us to progress humanity,” he said. “We need young people to come together, across regions, to reach out and come up with solutions that will help the world.”

The Singapore International Foundation (SIF) was proud to have been a partner of the inaugural Yale-NUS Asia Pacific Model United Nations (YNC-AP MUN). The conference brought together over 1,200 students of 40 different nationalities, including Indonesians, Chinese, Malaysians and Americans.

The three-day conference had opened with a panel discussion on Diplomacy in the 21st Century involving Professor Walter Woon, former Attorney-General, diplomat, and nominated member of parliament, Christina Liew, Executive Committee Member of UN Women Singapore and Samuel Myat San, Founder and Principal Trainer of Singapore Orators, and moderated by Sheila N. Hayre, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore. The discussion covered issues including the changing landscape of international diplomacy due to factors such as the rise of social media, and the relevance of the UN in today’s context.

Walter Yeo, student organiser of YNC-AP MUN 2015, said that the committee decided to organise this conference because while they were exposed to a lot of similar conferences overseas, Singapore has never had one which closely replicated the United Nations.

“We wanted to revitalise the Model UN scene in Singapore. So in designing this conference, we did things that had never been done before such as having new committees like the Iran Hostage Crisis and an ASEAN regional forum which was conducted in Mandarin," he said.

“We also invited international students for greater diversity in the delegation, allowing for both local and international students to learn from one another not only in an academic sense but to also allow for cultural exchanges.”

It was apparent that efforts to bring together delegates from different nationalities paid off as many cross-cultural friendships blossomed through the conference.

Rokas Morkunas, an 18-year-old student from Lithuania who role-played the position of United States’ Secretary of Defence in the Iran hostage crisis committee at the conference, said that the whole experience was meaningful and fulfilling.

“There is such a huge cultural vibrancy here and I’m really enjoying the fact that through this conference I get to meet people from so many different nationalities, with so many different working styles,” he said. “I’ve made so many friends from different countries that I never thought I’d even come across in my life!”

Professor Walter Woon, Christina Liew and Sam Myat San opened the conference with a panel discussion, moderated by Sheila N. Hayre, on the meaning of Diplomacy in the 21st Century.

Minister for Law and Foreign Affairs K Shanmugam engaged the 1,200-strong delegation in a closed-door dialogue on both local and global issues.

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