Annual conference allows students to practice diplomacy
4/12/2007 9:03:39 AM
LYNCHBURG – Randolph-Macon Woman’s College students don’t need to attend the National Model United Nations (NMUN) Conference in New York to explore different cultures and issues. All they need to do is show up to class. The students, who take a semester-long course on the United Nations before attending the conference, hail from ten different countries themselves.
Students in the class come from the United States, France, Jamaica, Ukraine, Ireland, Moldova, Poland, Russia, Sri Lanka, and New Zealand. Each year, class members travel to the NMUN conference to learn and experience the dynamics of multilateral diplomacy and international relations by representing a country on diverse UN committees. This year’s group represented Jamaica.
“I still get so surprised at how there are so many young adults that are able to give up a week of their lives to devote to this conference to think about issues with global implications, ones which aren’t talked about on MTV or at Friday night fraternity parties,” said Kelly Chapman, a senior.
For Christina Morgan, going to the Jamaican Mission to the United Nations and meeting with Norma Taylor Roberts, the deputy permanent representative and Ariel Bowen, first secretary, was the high point.
“It helped put the issues of drug trafficking, terrorism, small arms trafficking, and other prominent concerns into perspective,” she said.
The NMUN conference originated in 1923 as a simulation of the League of Nations. The NMUN adopted its present form in 1946 after the creation of the United Nations. The conference is the largest and one of the most prestigious collegiate Model United Nations programs in the world. It is the world’s largest, university-level UN simulation.
“The Model UN is where international politics are made real,” said Jennifer Abbassi, political science professor and faculty sponsor of the group. “They get hands-on experience with negotiating global issues and developing creative solutions to complex problems. Their contributions are extraordinary.”
Because it has grown in size, NMUN 2007 was run as two simultaneous conferences this year. More than 4,000 college students from dozens of different countries participated in the duel conferences, which are partly held at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. The experience offers a unique opportunity for students to better understand the inner workings of the United Nations while building skills in diplomacy and compromise. College students from all over the world work to propose and pass resolutions addressing regional conflicts, peacekeeping, human rights, women and children, economic and social development, and the environment. NMUN is a forum in which to discuss global concerns in a context that closely parallels the real world.
“This is an event where cultures come together, and our students are able to explore the sights and sounds of New York City as part of their learning experience,” Abbassi said. “The NMUN builds leaders. We go so that the world and our college can benefit from the skills and conscience that are developed there.”
The R-MWC delegation, received three awards voted on by their peers.
The group was recognized as a "Distinguished Delegation" and for submission of "Outstanding Position Papers"; a third award was given to one delegate in recognition of her outstanding performance on her committee.
The NMUN is sponsored by the National Collegiate Conference Association (NCCA), a 501(c)3 non-profit, educational corporation and is also a Non-Governmental Organization associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information.