Simulating the world’s problems on a much smaller scale, Texas Model UN launched in 2015 as a way to help students build relationships, learn leadership skills, and develop positive communication and collaboration. It’s an organization that has proven to be in the wheelhouse of senior Sam Mills, who is a part of this year’s Under Secretary of Conference.
“Politics runs in my family; my great-grandfather was a mayor, my great-grandmother was an advocate for the creation of the United Nations, and my aunt does work with Greenpeace,” Mills said. “Another reason why I grew to be interested in international politics was the fact that I spent some time living overseas when I was younger, and I learned a lot from learning in a different school system, interacting with different people, and so on. I became more and more interested in global affairs over time and eventually, I realized my passions after competing in the school, Geography Bee, since I was able to take part in something competitive that was geared toward my skill set.”’
Model UN members have the opportunity to represent different member countries of the United Nations at various conferences, where they debate real-world issues.
“I believe that the purpose of Model UN is to promote a sense of collaboration within a group of individuals striving to reach a shared goal,” Mills said. “It highlights the power of teamwork when a group of aspiring delegates, within a few hours, can decide solutions to real-world issues that are in our society.”
Mills started participating in Model UN during his freshman year because he heard about the Model UN and its sister program, Youth and Government, and decided to try it out.
“I continued in this program not just because I enjoyed it but also I’ve learned so much from it,” Mills said. “It’s special to be able to represent a particular country in Model UN because you have to stand in its shoes and fully embody its values, regardless of how you may feel.”
After three years of experience and conferences, Mills was appointed into the Texas Model UN Secretariat as the Under Secretary of Conference.
“Sam plays a huge role as part of the State Board,” junior Gurnoor Narula said. “He is required to manage conference planning and execution, an important factor in determining whether or not a delegate prefers the experience of MUN.”
This is Mill’s first year on the Texas Model UN Secretariat and it has already changed his experience compared to the last three years.
“My experience in Model UN has been much different since my selection to serve on the Secretariat because now I’m able to see everything that goes on behind the scenes and I am no longer a participating debater,” Mills said. “Instead of being active at the conference like in years past, I now have to handle logistics on conference days.”
Model UN promotes collaboration and problem-solving, and according to those involved, it can teach many life lessons.
“While simulating the United Nations, students build upon skills such as communication, relationship building, collaboration, and public speaking,” Plano YMCA MUN sponsor Preeya Ganness said. “Collaboration is key to excel, as well as displaying the Y Core Values of respect, honesty, caring, and responsibility.”
These values and life lessons have influenced Mills’ future and development.
“Participating in Model UN has impacted me a lot because it has steered me towards a possible career in foreign service or international economics,” Mills said. “It’s been one of the biggest influences on what I wish to do with my life and what I want to study in college.”
As Mills is now president of YG on campus and at the Plano YMCA, club sponsor Sarah Wiseman believes his dedication has helped bring in new members.
“It’s been an incredible experience getting to work with Sam,” Wiseman. “He is really organized, mature, and very humble leader. What Sam brings to the table is a lot of experience, a personality that’s very thoughtful, and the ability to set high expectations for himself that really inspires others. Sam has a real passion for civic engagement, whether it be at the state level through our organization, YG or at the global level, with MUN. He has been able to spread that love by recruiting people into the two clubs.”
Frustrated with the functioning of the House at last year’s YG state conference, Mills is running to be the Texas YG speaker of the house in January, securing the Dallas nomination at last weekend’s district conference.
“He really wants to make a difference in this world and knows that being a good person is a part of that, that civic engagement isn’t about politics,” Wiseman said. “It’s about like looking for problems and finding solutions and building a community that’s solution oriented. Sam is just a true gentleman. He always conducts himself with such grace and dignity, and that is really exciting to see. It’s why he’s so well liked and respected not just within the Liberty community, but across the state of Texas and YG and MUN organizations.”
MUN can be a life-changing experience to anyone who participates, academically, politically, morally, or even mentally.
“I think the most important lesson I’ve learned from Model UN is that I should recognize other perspectives that are different from my own,” Mills said. “It is very eye-opening to fully understand what drives the values represented by different countries’ policies and cultures. It’s made me a more diplomatic leader and allowed me to appreciate a diverse set of viewpoints, even if I disagree with many of them.”