Students in Service and Leadership at Harvard

Andrew YJ Kim - Story of Self

My name is Andrew Young Jun Kim and I am a senior living in Eliot House concentrating in Economics with a secondary in Sociology. I am originally from South Korea, though growing up I lived for some time in both Seoul and Atlanta, Georgia. This past year, I had the privilege of being elected to serve as the Secretary-General of the 68th Annual Session of Harvard National Model United Nations (HNMUN) and overseeing the return of the conference to an in-person format at a new hotel venue. When I first joined HNMUN as a first-year student, I had no idea that the program would come to define such a central part of my extracurricular experience at Harvard. Four years later, I am incredibly grateful for the lasting friendships and connections that I have made through the HNMUN community. It is my hope that, although my HNMUN career is now over, I can still give back to the program by reflecting on the valuable feedback provided by community members on how to make the organization a more socially inclusive and professionally meaningful group.

In my beginner role as an Assistant Director first joining HNMUN, I worked under the guidance of a more experienced Director and Moderator who constituted the senior leadership of the committee. Later as a sophomore, I authored a background guide on a research topic of my choice and chaired a committee with my own team of Assistant Directors. I then had the chance as a junior to develop a far more executive behind-the-scenes understanding of the conference upon becoming Under-Secretary-General (USG) of Operations. As member of the Secretariat, I got to directly work alongside the other USG's in handling the logistical aspects of conference planning, such as organizing social media campaigns, responding to email inquiries, designing and formatting background guides, running social events, and, most importantly, overseeing the Operations organ staff and ensuring they all had a substantively rewarding experience throughout the year. Finally, in February of 2021, I ran Secretary-General in the hopes of making HNMUN a more inclusive group.

Although the challenges posed by the COVID pandemic necessarily restricted at times the extent to which we could bond as a community, I worked upon being elected Secretary-General to make sure every member felt like HNMUN was an organization that cared about them and could provide them with a transformative experience. As with every year and with most student groups, I saw that the individuals who held the top leadership positions, namely members of my Secretariat, consistently got more out of their participation in the organization than regular members. Through this project and its outcomes, I hope for future iterations of HNMUN to be motivated to continue improving the average member's club experience. Model UN was a major part of my high school experience and it has continued to shape my life since then. It has been inspiring to learn from peers whose love for public speaking, debate, international politics, and problem-solving and I have every faith in HNMUN's ability to inspire many more generations of Harvard students to come. To be part of something so much greater than myself was a deeply humbling experience I would not trade for anything else, and one I sincerely hope for everyone to have during their time in undergraduate studies. For instance, a clip from the recent conference was featured in a vlog created by one of the attendees (you can see a clip from the Closing Ceremonies at the 4:20 mark).

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