On Friday 3 March 2023 students from 30 UK universities took part in the annual BISA Model NATO simulation. The event was run in partnership with the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). Here we talk to two students who took part about their experiences, motivations, and skills developed as a result of taking part. You can also scroll to the end for a video from Surrey student William Hitt.
- Jenna Carty: Fourth-year History and Politics student at the University of Stirling
- Cezar-Deniz Celik: Third-year International Relations student at the University of Coventry
- William Hitt: Final year BSE Politics student at the Surrey University
Why did you want to take part in Model NATO?
Jenna Carty: I wanted to take part in Model NATO because it seemed like a really fun opportunity to learn more about international relations and meet people who were interested in the same things that I am.
Cezar-Deniz Celik: I wanted to take part in Model NATO because I thought it would be a unique opportunity to learn about NATO and network with peers.
Did you know much about NATO beforehand, and how has your experience and preparation changed this?
Jenna: I knew the basics about NATO before I took part in this event, but I definitely gained a far better understanding during our prep for the event and whilst I was taking part in it. It was a great opportunity to develop a better appreciation for the way that NATO works and how they can help with humanitarian disasters.
Cezar-Deniz: My knowledge of NATO prior to the preparations I would say was quite general and not so profound, in the sense that I knew what NATO does and why it is important in world politics. My preparations for model NATO however, have given me a lot of technical insight about the operations of the alliance and its complex structure.
What did you do to prepare to act as your designated country?
Jenna: In terms of preparation, we did solo prep and group prep sessions where we worked together to research NATO and Albania, and to figure out our strategies and policies that we had to stick to during the event.
Cezar-Deniz: In my preparations to represent Poland in the military committee, I researched not only the military committee itself, but also the capabilities and resources of Poland. I have tried to think about the issue at hand as a real-life delegate from Poland would, taking into consideration real life aspects and the political climate, both nationally and internationally.
"The whole event was amazing. I absolutely loved getting to pretend to be a diplomat for the day and meet so many new people whilst I was doing it."
What were the best and the most challenging things at the event?
Jenna: The whole event was amazing. I absolutely loved getting to pretend to be a diplomat for the day and to meet so many new people whilst I was doing it. I think the most challenging part of the event was probably just actually doing it. We did a lot of prep but none of us quite knew what exactly to expect, so it was both challenging and rewarding to learn about the specific rules and etiquette there.
Cezar-Deniz: The best thing about the event was working together with other delegates to reach common ground. Putting together drafts and the final package statement were very satisfying feats indeed. At the same time, this aspect was also the most challenging one.
What skills do you think you developed or had the chance to use as a result of taking part and how will you use these going forward?
Jenna: I definitely developed a lot of confidence through taking part in this event. Having to not only stand up in front of others to debate and propose policy was nerve-wracking, but also working during unmoderated caucuses to develop proposals and gain support to compromise on issues was an amazing opportunity to work on my problem solving and resilience skills.
Cezar-Deniz: Taking part in this event at the FCDO was a truly inspiring experience, and I can confidently state that I was left with great amounts of knowledge about NATO itself and general diplomatic procedures. Through the challenging sessions of unmoderated caucus, I feel I have further developed valuable communication and negotiation skills.
Is there anything you would do differently if you took part in a similar event in the future?
Jenna: I don't think I would do much different if I was to do this event again. I absolutely loved taking part in model NATO and my team were great. I think that we did a great amount of prep work for it and all of us tried our best on the day.
Now watch William Hitt's video to hear about his experiences.