May 12, 2016 by Dana Beasley, NMSU News Center
For more than a decade, New Mexico State University’s Model United Nations team has received top tier awards at the annual National Model U.N. Conference in New York City. This year, the team continued its standard of excellence, receiving multiple individual awards and earning the Outstanding Delegation Award, the highest honor presented to a university team.
“It didn’t surprise me in the least,” said Neal Rosendorf, NMSU Model U.N. faculty adviser and assistant professor of government in the College of Arts and Sciences. “It is an extraordinary privilege to be working with these students.”
In March, the group of 14 competed against more than 2,500 students from schools all around the world. The team, representing Ukraine, served on committees to address current global issues, including rural education, arms control, drug trafficking, forest management, organized crime and finance.
In addition to the delegation award, several members took home individual prizes, including five Outstanding Position papers across nine students, as well as two Outstanding Delegate awards.
DeLorean Forbes, a sophomore government major, and Ismael Torres, a dual major in economics and government, were selected by peers at the conference to be Outstanding Delegates for their partnership on the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. This committee addressed the U.N.’s drug policy, specifically the issue of narcotic drug trafficking to finance terrorism.
“Our grand strategy as a whole was to be diplomatic – try to work with people who want to work with you, don’t make unnecessary enemies, but at the same time understand that not everyone is there to play nice,” Forbes said.
As a simulation of the actual United Nations, Model U.N. is intended to educate students on effective communication and multilateral diplomacy. The NMSU program is supported by academic coursework organized by the Department of Government, but is open to students of all majors at the university.
Current team members have plans to pursue a variety of endeavors, including law school, private business and the Peace Corps. Through the program, the students are better prepared for many professional challenges, such as how to succeed in environments that can be pressurized and highly political, Rosendorf explained.
“This is an invaluable tool for learning how to cooperate with people – how to collaborate while still being a part of the team, how to get your ideas across. It’s a great experience that you don’t get inside of a conventional classroom,” said Joli McSherry, a government major interested in pursuing a career in public relations and diplomacy.
Additionally, by identifying as different countries, students gain wider knowledge of international affairs and policy.
Since its establishment in the late 90’s, NMSU Model U.N. has successfully represented a handful of contentious countries, such as Lebanon, the Central African Republic, Lithuania and, this year, Ukraine.
“I personally advocated for Ukraine because I go to a Ukrainian Orthodox church here in Las Cruces,” said Matthew McNeile, senior government major and NMSU Model U.N. president. “We were able to meet with the bishop of that church, and it was a great resource to be able to learn about the country.”
At the conference, the team also had the rare opportunity to meet the Ukrainian ambassador to the United Nations.
“It was a big deal,” Torres said. “We sat in his diplomacy room, on opposite sides, and he answered every question we had about Ukrainian diplomacy in politics. At the end, he told us to follow him on Twitter.”
So what keeps the team succeeding year after year? McNeile said the reason is threefold.
“There are so many great students that come to NMSU, especially that come through the government department and economics department,” he said. “Secondly, the institutional memory – we have templates and models we can use from last year that work really well. And third, I’d say the amount of preparation we do for the conference.”
Each fall, the team president and faculty adviser select NMSU Model U.N. members through a competitive application and interview process. The end result is a group of savvy, self-motivated and multitalented individuals.
“These folks are looking for the potential for excellence, and for those who are returning, proven excellence,” Rosendorf said. “At the end of the day, this is their team. And while I’ve tried my best to be a resource, more often than not, I’ve found myself to be a proud observer and admiring bystander.”
For more information on NMSU Model U.N. visit https://mun.nmsu.edu.