April 29, 2015 by Isabel A. Rodriguez, NMSU News Center
Going into the annual Model United National Conference, the students representing New Mexico State University had a simple strategy: remain a team of placated dolphins among aggressive sharks. The plan seemed to work as the team took home the Distinguished Delegation award at the Model United Nations Conference, where they competed against other teams from around the world. The award is a distinction among the top 15 percent of groups.
“A shark in the ocean tends to live by itself, whereas dolphins work in groups. We’re not sharks, so we don’t try to exclude or attack people, but we did have to step up and meet them head-on,” said Isaac Morales, government senior, who served on the Security Council representing Lithuania. “The smaller committees need a different strategy than the bigger committees that are more developed. The delegates are a lot more intense. You have to not be afraid to speak up and go toe-to-toe with them. The Security Council lends itself more to hardball politics.”
“We became aggressive dolphins,” added Theadora Trejo, NMSU Model U.N. president.
Model U.N. is an academic simulation intended to educate students on effective communication and multilateral diplomacy. The program is supported by academic coursework organized by the Department of Government in the College of Arts and Sciences, but open to students of all majors at the university.
This year the students represented both the Central African Republic on seven committees while two of the members represented Lithuania on the Security Council.
Morales and Danielle Ceballes, who also served on the Security Council, described the hurdles that were thrown their way as they tried to negotiate strategies with the other members in the group – among them, figuring out how to deal with South Sudan using child soldiers, a crisis in Iraq and the possibility of a civil war breaking out.
In the end, the committee voted to enforce peacekeeping measures and provide humanitarian aid to ensure the safety of workers sent to the area.
“It was a really unique experience,” Ceballes said. “We had to collaborate with people with different mindsets and that helped give me new perspectives.”
The NMSU team also earned an award for a position paper written by members Jasmine Bentley and Joli McSherry.
Throughout the conference, students attended panels on climate change, the impact of social media on current events and other topics. They also had the opportunity to attend talks from guest speakers such as Argentine lawyer, Luis Moreno Campo.
The students had several months to learn more about their countries after receiving their assignments in November.
“We have had yet another successful year in both conference and at home reaching out to the community,” said Trejo. “We are proud to represent NMSU every year in NYC as we simulate the diplomacy of the United Nations. It was a privileged opportunity.”
Upon returning from the conference, the Model U.N. team held a 5k/10k run to help benefit local nonprofit organization Dress the Child, a foundation that provides clothes to needy children in Las Cruces.
“We had over 100 runners from the community come out to support both the team and Dress the Child,” Trejo said. “Additionally, we had a Fun Zone which represented vendors from the community who came to be a part of the event, providing activities for kids, and an all-around fun environment for everyone. The color and the people made it a vibrant and exciting event.”