David Watson: What makes the CDC Weapon X Committee a special part of this year’s McMUN conference?
Philippe April: I think that it does a really good job of blending both the fun of the crisis element with the public health policy aspect that is so important in the modern day and age, with things like super-bacteria or super-viruses. […] We got a really great opportunity to bring together a very extremely overqualified group of delegates. We have people ready to work for NASA, we have botanists, biology majors, we have a few individuals who are actually in medical school in their first year—people who are in residency. One guy comes in in his work scrubs and had his own badge made with his character name from his hospital, because he does research on emerging viral bacteria. So it’s a really good opportunity for them to flex their debate muscles and to inform all of us, myself included, about the real and honest pressing problems we have with the way that healthcare is managed in general, so I think that’s why I love my committee so much, and why its such a great addition to this year’s McMUN.
What’s been your favourite part of the job so far?
So far, I mean, it’s easily handling with the delegates. It’s easily trying to craft and create an environment where they can feel comfortable, not just as delegates but as friends, and that they can speak with me candidly and honestly about what they feel like needs improving or what they want more or less of. A lot of the time Model UN has seemed to be a little bit strict, and so my favourite part of it is leaving them with stories to tell, and to encourage other people to try a hand at it if they’re interested.
What do you think is the benefit of this type of committee?
Well there’s quite a few. For one, it puts you on your toes. It really exercises not only the factual or informational muscles that you have but also your creativity, your adaptability. How can you use that information to better forward yourself in a committee? Crisis is ever-changing, ever-flowing, the goals are always shifting and the goalposts are always moving, and I think that in anything, it’s a great skill to be able to use the knowledge that you have in its most beneficial form. So in my eyes, I think that’s the real benefit of this style of committee, as opposed to just flat GAs or flat SAs.
What would you say to any delegates that are experiencing McMUN for the first time this year?
I’d tell them to really enjoy everything about the conference. I’ve done Model UN for four years now, and I don’t remember the committee, I don’t remember the topics, I don’t remember any of my research, but what I remember are my friends in committee, I remember talking with them, I remember getting a job offer from one of them, who was working at an institution afterwards for the EU. I remember taking him up on it, and I remember thinking that I would have never had this opportunity had I not done [Model UN]. So go to the social events, don’t just go because you have to, go because you want to. Make friends, take down names and numbers, because you never know where they’re going to end up, if they’re as motivated as you then they’ll end up in great places as well.
Thank you, and good luck with your committee!