Students receive high honor at National Model UN conference
Published: Friday, April 27, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
Sixteen students represented UNH at the National Model United Nations conference in New York City this past month.
For the first time since 2007, UNH received the “Distinguished Delegation” award. The award is the second highest award at the conference.
“This particular group demonstrated extraordinary commitment both in preparation and at the conference itself,” UNH political science professor and group advisor Alynna Lyon said. Many students began working on their papers months prior to the simulation and the selection of students to attend New York was competitive. At the conference, many students were up late into the night drafting speeches and working on papers. This was a particularly impressive group, as most of them had not attended the conference before.
“While we were waiting for our name to be called once they started with the awards, it was so nerve-racking,” Danielle Duchesne, president of UNH’s Model UN group, said. “When our name was finally called, it was such a proud, exciting, and relieving feeling. We knew we had done really well at the conference and were excited about the work we had done, and to be recognized for our dedication and level of involvement at the end of the year is incredible and rewarding.”
The National Model United Nations conference in New York City brings together approximately 5,000 students from different countries for a week of interpreting the caucusing, resolution writing and negotiating of the actual United Nations.
Model UN provides students with a hands-on opportunity to learn about international politics and current affairs. Fifty percent of students attending the conference come from outside the U.S., and each school’s delegates are asked to write position papers and submit draft resolutions on various international issues.
“The goals of the group going into the week were to participate in the conference as much as possible, to lead collaborative initiatives to best represent Tanzania’s role as an exceptional state in Africa, and make sure to embody the spirit of the UN with compromise, collaboration, and developing solutions that could be accepted by consensus,” Duchesne said.
According to the National Model United Nations website, Model UN was established in 1945 as a simulation of the League of Nations. It is a multidisciplinary organization that attracts students from diverse majors ranging from biology, engineering, international affairs and political science. Students do extensive research on the country they are representing as well as the issues facing that nation. Model United Nations is based on independent research and transforms individual investigation into an active learning exercise.
Students gain the experience of research, professionalism, knowledge of global issues and in some cases, understanding of technical issues in security, development, and trade relations.
In addition, students who participate in the conference contribute to the international education of a wider campus community and, last fall, the students sponsored a United Nations Day where they provided food, educational speakers and discussion of the relevance of the United Nations in the 21st century, and the issues facing Iran (the country they represented in 2011), according to the group’s press release.
As traveling to New York and staying in Manhattan is very expensive, Model UN members also spend considerable time fundraising. This organization enhances the individual student’s international awareness and education as well as supporting the globalization of the UNH campus community.
“The year was particularly challenging, and fundraising took a significant effort as the university is facing such difficult financial times, Lyon said. “President Huddleston was extremely gracious as well as SAFC, the Center for International Education, and the COLA dean’s office.”
The UNH team also won the award for best position paper in Arms Trade Treaty Group. Some highlights of the experience included visiting with members of the Permanent Mission of Tanzania at the United Nations and attending the closing ceremonies at the actual United Nations, the team said.
“Learning about Tanzania and conference processes and writing position papers is the easier part because that is what Model UN is about, and all of the members want to take on those challenges,” Duchesne said. “The real challenge is the search for funds to make payment deadlines and secure logistics before the conference, as it costs over $9,000 to cover everything from conference fees to transportation.”
Main supporters of the UNH Model UN include UNH President Mark Huddleston; Vice President for Student and Academic Services Mark Rubinstein; the Student Activity Fee Commission (SAFC); and the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) office.