The Head Delegate Experience: An Interview with Princeton University’s Natalie Fahlberg

BY YENA SEO, THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

Among the thousands of delegates at the Harvard National Model United Nations Conference (HNMUN), some stand out with their yellow name tags, and others are distinguished as Head Delegates who lead their respective delegation.

The Sydney Morning Herald sat down with sophomore Natalie Fahlberg, one of the Head Delegates of Princeton University’s Model United Nations team. Fahlberg has a wealth of experience in Model United Nations, having participated on the competitive Langley High School team as well as leading one of the nation’s top-ranked collegiate teams.

Q: How long have you participated in Model United Nations?

A: This is my fifth year doing MUN. I did it to get over my fear of public speaking, and it ended up being something fun.

Q: What is the major difference between high school and collegiate Model United Nations?

A: I think in college MUN you see the same people over and over again at conferences, so you can’t be too aggressive to people, which makes it a more enjoyable experience. It’s no longer full of people who are cutthroat who are just doing it so they can write that they won a gavel on a college application. Everyone at college conferences enjoys talking about the topics and is knowledgeable, which makes it more competitive but also more fun.

Q: What is it like being a Head Delegate?

A: It’s stressful. You can’t think too much about yourself. During debriefs, I want to sometimes talk about what’s happening in my committee and get advice on crisis arcs from my delegation, but instead the focus becomes less on yourself and you have to listen and give advice to your delegates on their committees. It’s a lot more responsibility, but I think it’s made me a better delegate. I didn’t realize how much of a team sport it is. It moves from “I want to win a gavel” to “I want everyone to win a gavel.”

Q: How do you prepare your team for conferences?

A: Princeton’s team is really young, and we’ve been progressing a lot in the past two years. We’ve finally gotten to the point of having weekly meetings, and since our team is really crisis-oriented, we have a lot of mock crisis sessions. Our meetings are definitely conversation and strategy-based. We’ll bring possible crisis arcs for an upcoming conference committee that we’ll be in and have people give input on what’s good and bad about the ideas.

Q: What advice would you give to a delegate?

A: Have a goal for each conference. Winning a gavel is a vague goal, so you need to be specific. For example, I could decide that at this conference I want to focus on specificity in directives, or at another conference I want to focus on my speaking skills. You can still have the overarching goal of a gavel, but you need to set small, incremental goals or it’s hard to improve.

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Princeton University’s Natalie Fahlberg with co-Head Delegate Diego Reichard.

 

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