Written by Clare Isabel Ee | Image from Yale-NUS International Relations and Political Association
It’s been a whirlwind year for the Yale-NUS International Relations and Political Association (YIRPA) student group. The group, founded in 2013 by eight students from the Class of 2017, is one of the most active students groups to date, with a current total of 42 members. YIRPA aims to promote awareness about diplomacy and politics by engaging the community in international and local issues.
“We have sent delegations all over Asia, from India to Beijing, and most recently to Seoul to participate in Model UN (MUN) conferences in a variety of capacities. YIRPA members have competed as delegates, organised conferences and even chaired committees!” said Walter Yeo (Class of 2017), President of the association. “It has truly been a very busy year for us all and it is likely to only get crazier.”
That is clear from the packed summer YIRPA has enjoyed. Apart from attending MUN conferences, they organised their first MasterClass, a one-day workshop held on 31 May 2014, which aimed to enrich the MUN experience for attendees. This summer saw 111 students from secondary schools, junior colleges, and other tertiary institutions in Singapore learning from the members of YIRPA who are seasoned MUN delegates.
One attendee, Wileen Saw, a student from School Of The Arts (SOTA), thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and found it to be very useful and informative.
“In the span of just a few hours, the volume of information covered was remarkable: research techniques, geopolitics, resolution writing, The Hague MUN (THIMUN) versus UN-US conferences, MUN procedure, and so on,” she said. “Aside from factual information, we were also taught to consider the human aspect of organising conferences, how to raise one’s EQ and interact with fellow delegates; advice rendered by seasoned MUNers, who were highly knowledgeable, approachable and willing to assist. Additionally, this course provided a great platform to learn about how to rectify mistakes, prior to an actual conference.”
Less than three weeks later, YIRPA hosted 36 participants from six different countries for the World Scholar’s Camp from 20 to 22 June. It was a preparatory camp primarily geared towards preparing participants for the World Scholar’s Cup (WSC) Global Round, which was held from 24 to 27 June in Singapore this year, and is the first time the World Scholar’s Cup organisation had entrusted the responsibility of the Camp to a single institution.
“The WSC team and our Yale counterpart, the Yale International Relations Association (YIRA) have been working together for a while now, so when people learnt that the Camp would be held in Singapore this year, the WSC team was referred to Yale-NUS and we managed to come on board,” explained YIRPA Director of Special Projects, Amelia Chew (Class of 2017), the main organiser of the Camp.
The modules covered during the camp were based on the tournament’s theme for 2013–2014 – ‘The World Within’ – which aimed to explore the nature of boundaries and the different roles they create, and were centred on skills such as public speaking, writing and debating.
“The camp was an enriching experience for the participants and at the end of the day that is what matters the most,” Amelia added. “Based on feedback we collected from the participants after the camp, many felt that the camp was effective in equipping them with the skills needed for the World Scholar’s Cup and especially valued the personalised feedback that the trainers were able to provide during the Skill Modules.”
With all the positive feedback from both the MasterClass and the World Scholar’s Camp, YIRPA plans to have subsequent MasterClass workshops and to continue working with the WSC team.
“We would like to grow the camp alongside Yale-NUS College,” shared Walter. “The World Scholar’s Camp’s programme is very compatible and in many ways similar to an education offered by a liberal arts college, and we would like to bring that experience to the next generation of leaders and maybe even attract them to Yale-NUS.”