Four years after Model UN started gaining momentum in Indonesia, the names of Indonesian delegates and delegations have been called proudly in many awarding ceremonies in Australia, Korea, and the Netherlands (just to name a few) as champions and staff members, and ambitious projects and strict curricula were pitched and developed in many Model UN communities at home to ensure that the spirit is properly passed on to the new generations every year; some even extended beyond the community to enhance co-opetition, build partnerships, and slowly chip away institutional individuality among delegations. We have seen regional joint trainings throughout the year and convened the first joint conference last month. This weekend, we will have the first public workshop conducted by one of the Best Delegate’s co-founder, Kevin Felix Chan, for all Indonesian delegates regardless of their institutional affiliations. Hit the jump to get to know more about KFC, how he sees the Indonesian delegates’ potential, and some information on the upcoming workshop.
1. Best Delegate has become the most popular site about Model UN documentation and resources globally, but we barely knew the people behind it. So can we start with some introductions?
My name is Kevin Felix Chan — I also go by my initials, KFC! I have been doing Model UN for over 14 years now and have attended over 100 conferences. I started MUN as a shy freshman in high school in Southern California but eventually broke out of my shell to become the Secretary-General of my high school program. I went to college at UCLA and served as their Head Delegate for two years and as Secretary-General of their college conference. And I volunteered with UNA-USA throughout college and eventually served as Secretary-General of their Global Classrooms International MUN conference in New York where I had the opportunity to introduce Ban Ki-moon at the UN General Assembly Hall. After graduation I worked at AT&T, a large telecom company in the US, as a manager in marketing, operations, and sales for several years in their San Francisco and Atlanta offices.
But one day I spoke with a good friend of mine, Ryan Villanueva, who I had met at a high school MUN conference in Southern California and kept in touch throughout college at MUN conferences such as Harvard National (HNMUN) and Global Classrooms. We both thought that we had so much Model UN knowledge that was going down the drain as we were sitting in our cubicles working and that we should share our knowledge to the next generation of MUN delegates. We decided that we should take a blog that he had started from his dorm room at Yale, BestDelegate.com, and turn it into an education organization. Eventually we both quit our jobs in the corporate world — Ryan left the Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs and I left my management career at AT&T — so that we could do the company full-time.
Now we run Model UN training programs throughout the USA during the summer and have taught MUN in twenty countries around the world so far. We partner with many major non-profits, including the World Federation of the United Nations Associations (WFUNA) and the United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA) to help bring Model UN programs and resources to the broader community. And we run the Model UN website BestDelegate.com, which is read by over 450,000 readers from 190+ countries and territories annually.
Kevin has attended over 100 conferences in his 14 years of experience.
2. We knew that Best Delegate has observed Indonesia for quite a while. It was mentioned and featured several times on the website and Indah (a recent graduate from Universitas Indonesia) also worked in Best Delegate’s global media secretariat. So please tell us what do you have in mind about Indonesia and Indonesian delegates?
Indonesia provides the sixth largest viewership on the website after the USA, India, Canada, UK, and Pakistan. In terms of external perceptions, those are primarily based on the articles I have read about Indonesian conferences written by Indah Gilang, an alumna of Universitas Indonesia who served on the Best Delegate Global Media Secretariat last year. I also read the iDelegates blog and know that Indonesians have increasingly done well at conferences abroad judging by the Hall of Fame. I usually catch up with the head delegates of top performing teams when I visit college conferences to get their assessment of the competition that year, and one head delegate of a top team at HNMUN remarked that Indonesians really want to win awards but they are still figuring out how at this highest level.
Indonesia provides the sixth largest viewership on the website
But in terms of actual interactions, I know that Indonesians are everywhere and are seeking to improve. Besides having Indah on our Media team, Riyad Febrian Anwar from UnhasMUNClub was one of the Best Delegate trainers at the WFUNA Youth Forum Korea. I met several Indonesians last year, including Maleakhi Misael Sutanto, at the UN4MUN Workshop at UN Headquarters in New York sponsored by the UN Department of Public Information. And we had our first Indonesian high school student at the highly-selective Best Delegate Summer Program at Georgetown University this past summer.
Overall, I think there is a lot of potential in Indonesia. The delegates here are already taking the right steps in trying to improve as delegates, and I think Indonesia has the largest number and most ambitious college level delegates in all of Southeast Asia. The next step is to create a sustainable community of local MUN conferences, which is the model that exists in many developed MUN communities. Indonesia has a huge population and a high interest in Model UN. The experienced delegates need to move beyond just being delegates and become trainers, chairs, and conference organizers of domestic conferences for younger students such as high school students and even middle school students. That is the financially and educationally sustainable way to build up the talent pool — it provides low-cost access to MUN for high school students and gets them already interested and experienced by the time they enter university. Given the large population and ambitious college students, it’s highly possible that Indonesia can eventually develop a flagship, prestigious international conference with over 1,000 delegates and an active circuit of many other large, regional conferences.
Indonesia has the largest number and most ambitious college level delegates in all of Southeast Asia.
3. It is wonderful that we will have a Best Delegate workshop for the first time in Indonesia, and I can recall that some people are very curious about how it’d be like and stuffs, especially those people who really aspire to snatch awards in international conferences. Can you share with us some description and teasers on the workshop and the materials that you will deliver?
The university-level Model UN conferences tend to focus on negotiation as the key identifier of success and leadership. Public speaking, research, and resolution-writing are important, too, but the delegates who win awards typically have a visible influence in the unmoderated caucuses — they actively build alliances, synthesize ideas, lobby for support, and negotiate or defend against mergers. There are strategies and tactics that we have developed at Best Delegate to break down the unmoderated caucus process.
Many of these are based on the fundamentals of social dynamics, which means how to properly apply social skills and negotiation theories in different contexts and toward different people. I hope to be able to share that with you at the workshop and help answer questions about difficult situations you may have encountered at past conferences. More importantly, I hope that the lessons on social dynamics will be applicable for you throughout life, because social skills and negotiation will be needed in order to build personal and professional relationships in the real world.
4. Last question. Do you have anything to say to Indonesian delegates generally and the workshop participants in particular?
I personally love traveling to other countries — I’ve been to over 40 countries so far — and getting to meet people from around the world. This is my first time visiting Indonesia and I will have visited Jakarta, Bali, and Yogyakarta by the time I come to the workshop at Universitas Indonesia. I’ve always wanted to come to vacation in Bali, but what sparked my interest in the Model UN community here was having Indah Gilang on the Best Delegate Global Media Secretariat last year. She did an excellent job educating the global community about how passionate Indonesians are about Model UN. Everyone who is attending the workshop is already taking a right step in their MUN journey by seeking to become the best at something they are so passionate about, and I’m excited to meet everyone at the workshop!
The workshop will be held in Gedung Rumpun Ilmu Kesehatan (RIK), Universitas Indonesia on October 4th. Re-registration will start at 9 AM. Lunch and certificates will be provided.