Model United Nations club revived on Hill
A team of nine students from the Hill recently took home a prize for its performance as delegates to the Arab League. How did this team of students from Maine get involved in discussing issues from the other side of the globe? They are all members of the College's Model United Nations (UN) club.
Model UN is a simulation of international organizations that allows students to play the role of ambassadors and discuss current issues. The competition is a series of formal debates and informal caucuses, in which the delegates present the viewpoint of the country they are representing and attempt to convince their fellow delegates to support their resolutions.
"You have to take on the roles and ideas of the country you're representing, even if that sometimes means going against your own beliefs," team member Rebecca Gonzalez-Kreisberg '12 says.
"It's a great way to learn about the UN and the Arab League because the tournaments model the institutions, and you can really learn about their structure and functions," club president Andy Estrada '12 adds.
The diplomacy of the College's Model UN team led to their recent victory at the Model Arab League Conference in Boston. At this two-day competition, each team member represented a different country and discussed that country's viewpoints on current issues such as the Israeli-Palestine conflict, women's rights and economic diversification. At the end of the conference, Colby's team was named the best delegation out of all the colleges in the competition.
In addition to being named best delegation, several members of the College's team also earned individual honors. Shireen Smalley '13 and club treasurer Sai Chavali '11 both earned best delegate awards. In addition, Estrada, Yichen "J" Jiang '13 and Carter Stevens '13 received honorable mentions for their performances at the conference.
The team's superb performance at the Model Arab League Conference is particularly impressive, considering that the club was re-established on the Hill just last year. The club has expanded this year to about 15 members, due in part to a large number of first-years joining the group.
"We're really pleased to have so many freshmen on the team because it means that the club will be strong for the next three years," Estrada says.
Club members meet weekly to discuss upcoming conferences and the research that members are doing in preparation for representing the viewpoints of their assigned countries. Each member of the team puts in hours of research in preparation for the competitions.
Club members find that participating in the conferences is not only fun but also a great way to learn about different countries and refine the skills needed to present and gain support for one's ideas.
"It's really helping my public speaking, slowly but surely. Representing a country forces you to have to stand up and present your ideas, and I'm definitely becoming a better public speaker," Gonzalez-Kreisberg says.
If you want to learn more about Model UN, Friday, April 30 from 12:30-3 p.m., government professor Kenneth Rodman will be leading an International Criminal Court Simulation. This event will be an abbreviated version of a Model UN conference and will give students on the Hill a chance to see what happens at competitive conferences.
"We are very keen on bringing a culture of intellectual discussion on international relations and politics to campus," Chavali says.
"If you're interested in International relations, Model UN is a really interesting, interactive way to learn about that area," Estrada says.
For more information about the simulation or the Model UN club, contact Andy Estrada at firstname.lastname@example.org.