How would you describe Permanent Delegation to someone who has not heard about it before?
So Permanent Delegation is one of the seven committees of the United Nations Students Association here in Maastricht. We have weekly workshops and debates on research, public speaking, debating, critical thinking, negotiation, and cooperation skills. While you learn these skills, you realise that the equilibrium between the social and academic tends to shift more into the focus of social, and academics become less prevailing as you become more of a group of friends along this journey which takes one year. What is more and which highly dominates the rhythm of Permanent Delegation is the conferences, where we represent the delegation and association as well as the university across Europe!
What do you normally do in the weekly meetings?
In the beginning, we focused a lot on public speaking and debating styles in general but as the year went on, also topics such as diplomatic conduct, resolution writing, and body language were introduced. The concepts shifted more in-depth once you acquired these basic skills. For instance, we moved to debate about the conflict of South-East Asia in the UN Security Council, the case of the Russian invasion of Georgia in the International Court of Justice and in UN Women we debated the problem of land ownership.
How much is the workload for each week?
The workload depends on the topic which you will cover during the weekly meeting. In the beginning, I devoted more time to it than in the end, as I got more used to the workload and preparations for the meetings. How this workload is experienced of course varies with each person, but in general, it was very much doable despite being in my first year!
Which countries have you travelled to go to the conferences?
We have been in Switzerland in Sankt Gallen, Madrid, and Paris, and we also hosted a conference here in Maastricht (EuroMun). Other delegates have been at Menton, Reims and Amsterdam and will go over the summer to the Hague and Tel Aviv!
What have you learned during the past year?
Academically, the progress I have made has been about filtering out texts: what do I actually need to know and what not. In essence, I’d say efficiency in writing and working in a limited timeframe.
On the other hand, socially I have been getting more used to speaking in public, convincingly advocating my position and stance and working in a team. As you are in a delegation of about 20 other students – most of whom I had never met before – you definitely learn a lot about working in a team, what your spot is in this team, and what you are good at. PD is also a lot about just having fun! We have weekly socials where we get together and have all kinds of gatherings from brunches to dinners to parties!
Do you see overlapping themes with Global Studies on the topics you cover?
Yes, definitely. During the first semester, we focused a lot on introducing interventions to a specific global problem with local relevance in global flows of goods. You learn that these complex problems are never a one-size-fits-all scenario and learn to look at how different disciplines approach these problems. This you can see in the MUN world as well where we debate with other country delegates and try to reach an agreement which benefits all. For instance, in Madrid we discussed risk reduction and climate change mitigation, especially regarding extreme catastrophes. The roadmaps you learn in the classroom can really help in a situation like this when you can position yourself in the debate.
To whom would you recommend Permanent Delegation?
Our group has been super diverse and everyone has found their spot so really to anyone really! In general, I would say if you have an open mind and are willing to put yourself to new challenges and experiences you are in the right place. It should not be just about having another CV or academic achievement (which is of course a nice bonus) but having genuine motivation and interest in PD itself and the topics it covers. So, as long as you feel like you want to challenge yourself, build new skill sets and meet some cool people, PD is the place for you. If you join next year you might see me hanging around!