Model United Nations team wins top national awards

April 27, 2009 by Round Up Round Up

Representing Finland at the National Model United Nation conference, the NMSU Model United Nations team walked away with the “Outstanding Delegation” award, which is a top honor at the conference held April 6-11 in New York.

Not only was the team also recognized with the “Outstanding Position Paper” award, but this competition marks the second year in a row the team has been given the top honor of “Outstanding Delegation.”

“What the Model United Nations team does is effectively represent a country in the world and their country’s position on international affairs,” said Jason Ackleson, associate professor of government and the team’s faculty adviser. “During the competition they are judged on how well they advocate and represent that country’s position on a variety of international issues such as global warming, human rights and terrorism.”

Ackleson said the award is only given to the top 2 to 5 percent of schools that attend the conference, so this year’s level of performance is repeating the excellence of last year.

“The team prepares by researching the country they are assigned and writing several position papers in advance of the competition,” Ackleson said. “Those position papers involve research and they detail the country’s stance on a topic.”

Focusing on Finland, this year’s Model UN team researched issues such as global warming.

Ackleson explained during the conference, negotiations are made over resolutions the students write together to fix the problems explored.

“Finland offers up some solutions and maybe Russia offers up other solutions and they all negotiate and write out resolutions that can be supported by other countries,” Ackleson said.

Newly appointed Model UN team president Andrea Peterson said the NMSU team is a group of approximately 12 students every year who attend one or two conferences representing a member state of the United Nations.

“We prepare ahead of time by researching our country intensively, and we also hone our skills on procedure and public speaking,” Peterson said. “At the conference, we are all on different committees, where we address various issues and attempt to resolve them, including refugee situations, public-private partnerships (PPPs), and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).”

Peterson explained these particular papers contain a huge amount of information that must be condensed to one page, front and back.

“This helps us familiarize ourselves with our country, our committee, our issues, and the UN documentation system and history,” Peterson said. “The other way we prepare is by holding simulations of what we do at conferences on a small scale among members of our team.”

Being a part of the NMSU Model UN for almost 13 years, Ackleson said the team basically simulates the role of a diplomat from the country they are assigned and interacts with the other 2,000 students at the competition who are also representing other countries.

Peterson said the competition is geared toward learning about global politics, and educating students on the importance of the United Nations.

“We’ve represented really interesting countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Syria, and even Israel,” Peterson said. “We started winning awards with our representation of the Philippines in 2005.”

Aside from the competition, Ackleson said the team organizes club fundraisers and raises money through ASNMSU and the university during the fall semester.

“Students also enroll in the program and they are selected competitively,” Ackleson said. “Students have to try out for the team, and then in the spring they take a class in the department of government designed to prepare them for the competition and let them learn more about international relations.”

Peterson said although the team tends to go into the conference feeling nervous about their abilities, the team prides itself on its preparation.

“We always end the first day of competition saying, ‘I know all of this better than anyone in that room!'” Peterson said. “We pick top-notch potential delegates from across the wide array of majors here at NMSU, and their confidence and ability to adapt is also something important in helping us be prepared to win.”

Proud of the team’s performance, Ackleson said all the hard work they did to prepare for the conference paid off in the end.

“They did a really superb job and continued to consolidate NMSU’s reputation as an award-winning Model United Nations school,” Ackleson said. “It’s not so much about the competition. I think it’s really about the students learning about the world, learning about other cultures, learning how to negotiate with one another and solving problems collaboratively.”

Teaching others those skills and values of the UN is something the team leaders try to emphasize more, Ackleson said.

“Not only do they have a terrific award, but they have some other things that they can take with them for the rest of their lives,” Ackleson added.

Online applications for next year’s team will not be available until summer. After the application process, an interviewing session will be set up for the candidates.

“The competition is an amazing experience that has a maturing, sobering effect at times, but is rewarding and fun at the same time,” Peterson said. “There are few other places where people from so many different countries and backgrounds can come together to address really salient issues.”

For more information on the team and their accomplishments check out the team Web site at www.nmsu.edu/~govdept/modelun or the conference site at www.nmun.org.


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