“Soo… you are going to Vienna to participate in some sort of roleplay?”, someone asked during a lunch break at work last week, as I was trying to explain the purpose of my upcoming four-day trip to Austria. As my colleagues were unaware of the existence of such thing as a Model European Union, I explained: It’s a simulation of EU decision-making, young people from all over Europe gathering, everyone assigned different roles and trying to promote the interests of each “their” country or party – you know the drill. While my colleague’s use of the word “roleplay” mostly made me think of plastic swords and people running around in forests dressed up like orcs or vikings, I nevertheless had to agree with him: The MEU is one big role-play. I mean, just look at me: Usually, I wear sneakers and cosy sweaters for work, while, as I am writing this, I am looking all-professional in my black, formfitted blazer. However, the MEU-roleplay is cool in the sense, that even though we spend almost four days basically pretending to be someone we are not, the simulation still gives us something which we can use back in real life. Most importantly, it gives us a wildcard to try things out and make mistakes without failing or being fired. In other words: a unique freedom to act bolder than we usually would, and for example, as a journalist, you might ask the ministers questions that you wouldn’t dare in reality. And if just a tiny bit of that extra boldness sticks with you, once you leave your role behind, then the MEU-roleplay can turn out to be much more than just a fun, four-day experience.
by Rikke Mathiassen