Article by João Cardoso
Bio: Hello readers! My name is João Cardoso and I am currently a senior at an international school in São Paulo, Brazil. I have participated in Model UN for the past 4 years, as a delegate and a chair. Aside from MUN, you can find me browsing reddit, cooking, and dying because of the IB diploma.
Rejection hurts, and that’s true no matter the situation, whether it be from college admissions or within Model UN. Rejection in MUN comes in many forms, from not being awarded at a conference to not being chosen to chair a committee. In these situations it’s important to ask yourself “what should I do now?”. If you did not get an award, maybe email your chair for feedback, and in the case of not having your committee accepted, you can always email the secretariat. However, there is a different option for those who did not have their committee accepted: Just make an entirely new conference! That is exactly what the secretariat behind the inaugural SOI² did.
It all started in November of 2018: RioMUN, a rather prestigiose and large high school MUN conference in Rio De Janeiro, had just started accepting committee applications. You see, in the Brazilian circuit, conferences will typically open chair applications to anyone who wants to apply, and chairs have to assemble a team beforehand. This is exactly what Luca Cechinel and Luiz Busca, two of the founders of SOI² did. A team was assembled, with goals of running a committee based around the cabinet of former Brazilian “president” Getúlio Vargas. A full crisis committee (which isn’t as common on the Brazilian MUN circuit) about an important and tumultuous time in Brazil’s history. Unfortunately, sometimes plans change, and the committee idea was ultimately and unfortunately not accepted. While at first they might have been a little (or a lot) disappointed, this was the moment when an idea began to brew. Instead of just accepting defeat, they got together to organize an entirely new and independent conference, and thus, SOI² was born (with SOI² standing for the Simulação de Organismos Internacionais Independentes, or the independent simulation of international organisms). Of course, this wouldn’t be an easy project, far from it in fact. At first the idea seemed a bit unachievable. “(…) me (Luca) and busca just talking and mentioning “what if we did our own thing” not really believing that it could be a thing”. Eventually though, a team began forming, and what was once just a far off idea began developing into something concrete.
At first, many challenges ensued, the first of which was attempting to form a balanced team, with secretariat members from both international schools in Brazil as well as Brazilian schools. While the secretariat was, in the end, predominantly made up of people from international schools, they still did a fantastic job organizing the conference. The team ultimately consisted of 2 academic secretariat members, Luca Cechinel from the British School of Rio De Janeiro and Luiz Busca from the Military high school of Brasilia, as well as 3 administrative secretariat members, those being Eduardo Koranyi from the British School of Rio, Lucas Justen from the American School of Brasilia, and the mildly famous Erik Novak, graduate from the American School of Rio De Janeiro. With the team assembled, now it was time to act. In the following months popularity for the conference grew. A host center was established at the Mackenzie Presbyterian University in Brasília, and registration began to grow and grow. While at times it seemed as if everything might come crashing down, July 17th, conference day 1, ultimately arrived.
Committees at the conference were very diverse, and almost exclusively crisis, ranging from a World War 1 JCC, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the USSR responding to Stalin’s death, the Rio De Janeiro Conference which was the South American response to Axis powers of World War 2, and the Stockholm climate change conference of 1972. You may have noticed that all of these committees are historical in nature, and that is because they all relate to the overall theme of the conference, which was “Returning to the Past in order to structure the future”. The reason why the committees managed to be so diverse was the result of a deliberate choice by the secretariat to utilize a very “laissez-faire” approach in terms of committee organization, and generally letting the chairs make the choices. This resulted in some of the most diverse and experimental committees ever seen on the Brazilian circuit, and I can personally attest that the delegates enjoyed themselves very much. That isn’t to say that there weren’t any hiccups. For example, the security council ceased its existence after the first day of the conference, and many committees ended up accepting “security council refugees”. Nevertheless, for every hiccup there were at least 3 triumphs and successes. One of the most memorable aspects of the conference were the press briefings. Unlike other conferences where the press has a tendency to take a backseat, the press were especially active at SOI², whether it be from making hilarious videos that were shown at the end of every day, to organizing the “press conferences”, where press delegates would interrogate delegates on the stage in front of everyone. After 4 grueling but incredibly rewarding and fun days of debate, in which everything, from a public coverup of Stalin’s death to the Japanese using “Kamikaze pigeons” to attack Germany in the Great War, happened.
You, the reader, may be asking yourself what exactly made SOI² so special? While the story of its inception is certainly interesting as it “born out of that failure” as one secretariat member put it, and it shows a fascinating story of resilience. But what made the conference itself special? My answer would be that it was the overall spirit of the conference. One secretariat member put it best: Almost every other conference is beholden to a single institution and discriminates towards members of that institution in some way, while SOI² treated all as equals and gave everyone a fair opportunity to participate and to lead. (…) SOI² treated all participants with no distinction whatsoever. If we took that mindset to all our projects and initiatives, I believe the world would truly be a better place.” This spirit of democracy is even reflected in the name of the conference. “The name purposefully didn’t have “UN” in it to express how the scope of SOI² goes far beyond the United Nations and how all-encompassing it is.” Ultimately, SOI² was one of the most unique conferences I have ever had the pleasure of participating in, which is why I wanted to share this story.
Special thank you to Luca Cechinel and Eduardo Koranyi for answering questions and providing quotes, and a special thank you to all of the secretariat members for hosting such an amazing conference, and lastly, thank you to the members of the MUN01 website for sharing this article.
MUN01 would like to thank João for his contribution! We will be opening a new application period for next spring’s guest articles soon, be on the look out!