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Insomniac x Athena Michael and Bernard Sim

In 2013, local politics once again dominated the news, from the Punggol East by-elections to the hotly debated White Paper. In light of such discussions Insomniac brings you special double interview. Both hailing from the NUS Political Science Society (NUS PSSOC), Bernard Sim and Athena Michael are heading some exciting upcoming events that doesn’t just talk about politics but requires their participants attempt to formulate and solve issues that plague us today. Celestine Lian sits down to chat with both of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celestine: Tell me a little bit about yourself.

(Athena) Hi All, I’m Athena Michael, a third year Political Science and History double major, who is also pursuing a minor in religious studies. I have always been passionate about issues concerning international politics; which would explain my love affair with Model United Nations (MUN), which might also explain me holding the position of MUN Director in the NUS PSSOC.

I am an avid reader and largely concentrate on books about religion and politics. No surprise, I would guess. Moreover I engage in voluntary work that sees me assisting the aged and sick via interacting and feeding them.

Additionally I am quite interested in debates and such which has seen me adjudicating in debating competitions. I have also been serving close to three years now in my constituency’s Meet-the-People session helping residents draft letters to the respective government agencies and organizations and this has allowed me to experience great amounts of satisfaction in being able to play my part in rendering people assistance.

(Bernard) Hi there! I am Bernard Sim, a 3rd Year Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences student double majoring in Economics and Political Science.

For those of you who know me well, I am a workaholic and love to keep myself preoccupied with meaningful tasks. That’s why besides being a student leader of NUS Political Science Society, I am also an Editorial Assistant with the International Studies Review (ISR) and a student journalist with the Economics Department Newsletter.

Outside school, I am a grassroots leader and have been organising community events in my neighbourhood for about 5 years. People often ask how do I find so much time. My reply would be “I don’t find time, I manage it” ;)

In my leisure time I enjoy watching Korean dramas especially those of political and suspense genres such as City Hunter and the King 2 Hearts. I also watch Running Man, which allows me to relieve stress by laughing at all the funny gags in the variety show.

 

Celestine: What do you do in PSSOC?

(Athena) I have been in NUS PSSOC for approximately two years. I am currently serving as the society’s Model United Nations Director and previously I was the Chief Financial officer.

As the MUN Director my responsibilities include organizing the society’s annual flagship event that is in its 10th year this year; the Singapore Model United Nations 2013, essentially I oversee just about every single aspect of the conference from academic matters to event the fun and light hearted side of the event (i.e. social event).

Moreover I am also the coordinator of NUS delegations to International MUNs, this includes conducting interviews, reviewing application forms and conducting of academic training, both in terms of topics of discussions as well as Rules of procedure. An example of such a prestigious MUN would be the annual Harvard International Model United Nations. Additionally on behalf of the society I do also host the MUN welcome tea that provides students to become acquainted with not only SMUN, but several other international MUNs and their application procedures and such.

(Bernard) I have been with NUS PSSOC for 3 years and am proud to see the progress NUS PSSOC has made since I joined when I was in Year 1. This academic year, I have been elected as the President of the NUS Political Science Society (PSSOC) and was tasked with the heavy responsibility to bring the society to greater heights.

As the President of PSSOC, I have to ensure the smooth running of the society’s flagship events such as the Singapore Model United Nations (SMUN), the Singapore Model Parliament (SMP), and the PS Department Luncheon.

 

3. Sounds like the both of you have quite a hard job – I’m sure it has its fun parts. What would you consider as the best or coolest aspect of your job?

(Athena) The several hours of meetings (especially with a lot of new individuals), persuasive letter writing and cracking of jokes till everyone’s sides hurt, would be what I deem the best aspects of my job.

(Bernard) Getting to know more like-minded peers and

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engaging in intellectual discourse about politics from domestic to international i.e. practically everything under the sun!

 

Celestine: Now I’m going to discuss some of the specific events under your jurisdiction. Athena, as the MUN director, would like to tell our readers what exactly a MUN is and what do the participants do?

(Athena) MUN stands for

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Model United Nations. These conferences provide students with opportunities to unravel and better understand the workings of the United Nations and other related organizations/institutions and the complicated nature of establishing and maintaining ties between countries via diplomatic means. This is achieved via allowing students to comprehend the difficulties of what it means to play the role of a delegate of a particular country, in protecting that country’s national interest, while assisting in the resolution of international disputes.

One upcoming local MUN will be the Singapore Model United Nations (SMUN) is the annual flagship event of the NUS Political Science Society (PSSOC) and has been held for nine consecutive years and is its 10th year in 2013. Just about any MUN addict would attest that participating in one such conference alone is enough to get hooked on it and having participated multiple number of times in SMUNs together with several other members of the 2013 Secretariat, I can safely say it would be an experience of a lifetime.

 

Celestine: Bernard, are there any other upcoming PSSOC events, other than organizing SMUN or sending delegations to other MUNs?

(Bernard) PSSOC will be organising its 2nd Singapore Model Parliament (SMP) at The Arts House in June this year. SMP participants will role-play as Members of Parliament (MPs) in mock-up parliament sittings and debate over the intricacies of bills which will be passed in the model parliament. Bills debated include several hot domestic issues such as housing, transportation and immigration, etc. This session will be especially interesting, considering the current events that have occurred, including but not limited to the white paper released by the government on their projected population growth.

For PS Majors, PSSOC specially organizes a PS Luncheon every Sep/Oct so that students have a chance to interact with their professors and staff from the Political Science Department.

 

Celestine: Okay, now I’m going to ask the both of

you to explain why our readers should be interested in joining both SMP or SMUN in 25 words or less.

(Athena) Students get to taste ‘real’ politics outside the confines of their classroom and it is not just all about academics, there is also the fun and light side of the conference thus making it a wholesome experience.

(Bernard) SMP is as real as it can get to actual parliament sittings. Students will get to pass parliamentary bills and experience parliamentary proceedings firsthand at… The Old Parliament House! Think you have what it takes to be an MP? Then prove it, by joining SMP! :P

 

By: Celestine Lian

 


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