BDMUN2020 – a virtual experience like no other

On the weekend of August 7th, B.D. Somani’s Model UN team planned a first of its kind, digital, and international, MUN conference. As the Secretary General of this conference and its predecessor, this was quite a unique and enlightening experience, one which challenged both my leadership and logistical capabilities.
We decided to make BDMUN 2020 an online event quite early on. Thanks to the prudence and foresight of our school administration and our MUN coordinator Mr. Satyajit Salgarkar, we were able to predict very early on that a physical conference would be too optimistic and risky a dream. Thus, the decision to go online was made 4 months before the conference.
BDMUN 2020 was certainly an innovative and new style of MUN, but it was one which attempted to learn from other sources. Devansh and I watched countless online debates and recorded many online MUNs and any online interactive discussions we could get our hands on. I even requested a friend of mine from another school to allow me to sit in on their conference! We certainly left no stone unturned in this regard.
The decision to invite non-local participants was a mix of previous planning and opportunity. For  the core organisers (Shreyansh, Devansh and I), 2020 was already set to be the year where we would expand BDMUN’s horizons to include international participants. When COVID hit, we realised that we could make the most of an otherwise bleak situation. We began communicating with schools abroad months in advance, and knew that this was a golden opportunity to make BDMUN a well known and international conference. We therefore coupled this change in scope of our conference with a rebranding campaign, which involved changing our name (BDSMUN became a shorter and far more crisp BDMUN), creating a new conference logo and custom committee logos, and overhauling our website and social media.
As a whole, the conference was quite successful. That being said, we encountered numerous expected and unexpected issues. While we were unsurprised to encounter connectivity issues in a conference of over 150 people, spanning numerous countries, we were noticeably hampered on day 1 of the conference by the torrential storm that hit Mumbai just two days before. I was one among many BDMUN attendees and organisers who were consequently plagued by network and electricity issues. Furthermore, time zone differences, enforcement of conduct, and communication issues did crop up at times, but I can proudly and gratefully note that our talented executive board and organising committee were able to commensurately and promptly extinguish these proverbial fires.
The contribution of the amazing students and teachers that I had the pleasure of working with can in no way be overstated. Devansh and Shreyansh, our Deputy Secretary General and Director General, two other constituents of our BDMUN core, were the two most capable and talented individuals I have ever worked with. Certainly the three of us made quite the team, always having impromptu meetings and sacrificing so many hours of sleep for this conference. The school administration all helped and supported our efforts, and working with Dr. Colleen Boyett, Dr. Geoffrey Fisher, Ms. Shagun Sobti and Mr. Navroz Billimoria on two consecutive conferences has been an immense pleasure for me. Mr. Satyajit Salgarkar was a fantastic MUN coordinator, who was a mentor, a guiding light, a co-planner and so much more for all three of us. The Chairs of the Committees, be they B.D. Somani students or our guest chairs, made up the most experienced, diverse and successful group executive board I have ever seen in any conference, city or countrywide. Our social media team helped turn Instagram into one of our primary methods of marketing, and did so with efficacy that left everyone on board thoroughly impressed. Our press and illustrations teams created some amazing work, marketing material and post conference press releases.
BDMUN 2020 was a conference that was ultimately worth more than the sum of its parts, one which will remain truly unique in its own right. While I’m certainly looking forward to seeing how my capable juniors take on the task of handling next year’s offline conference, this online event will always be quite a unique experience which I will  cherish for years to come.
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