By John Jackson
From Sunday Apr. 9 to Thursday Apr. 13, a group of Manhattan College students got the opportunity to simulate a series of everyday tasks performed by United Nations delegates.
They did this at the National Model United Nations Conference which is held in New York.
The Manhattan students who attended currently take Dr. Pamela Chasek’s Model United Nations class which is offered at the college in the spring. The program is also offered in the fall, but as an extracurricular activity rather than a credited course.
“The Model UN class prepares students for the National Model United Nations New York Conference,” said Dr. Chasek. “During the course of the semester, the students learn about the country they are representing.”
This year the students represented Turkey on 10 different committees. Some of these committees were the General Assembly First Committee, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Development Programme and the International Atomic Energy Agency. Two students also represented the United States on a security council simulation as well.
Sophomore Kirk Rotger was on the International Atomic Energy Agency. This was his first time participating in a Model UN Conference.
“This was my first time doing Model UN and really what I got out of it was learning how different people will approach the same problem differently,” said Rotger.
During the semester, the students have to do an ample amount of research to learn about their country and the country’s position on three specific topics regarding their committee.
“We wanted to cover nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East and safeguards in the Middle East whereas most countries thought that didn’t really applied to them,” said Rotger.
Junior Jamie Paton was on the same committee as Rodger. She also participated in the Washington D.C. conference held in the fall. The differences in both conferences was notable for her.
“This is my second conference,” said Paton. “So I thought it was very interesting to see the differences between the D.C. conference that we do as an extracurricular activity in the fall versus the New York conference which is offered as a class in the spring.”
Both conferences have granted her insight about the United Nations deliberation process.
“It was impactful to me because you realize just how important people’s personalities are when dealing with issues,” said Paton. “I feel like today a lot of people get stressed out about the establishment, quote on quote, but you don’t realize that it’s not one big force working against you. It’s a bunch of personalities that are having trouble coming together to work for you.”
Jaycie Cooper, a sophomore, represented Turkey on the United Nations Development Programme. She views Model UN as an invaluable experience.
“MUN is a wonderful program because it teaches you how to come to a group consensus with a range from either 20 to 300 people,” said Cooper. “And that’s a simulation experience you’re gonna get with no other program.”
There were three types of overall delegation awards given out to the participating schools. There was one for Outstanding Delegation (given to 24 schools), one for Distinguished Delegation (given to 36 schools), and one for Honorable Mention Delegation (given to 51 schools). Manhattan College was rewarded for their efforts with a Distinguished Delegation award for representing Turkey.
“Your delegation is only as strong as your weakest member,” said Dr. Chasek. “They had to speak, they had to negotiate, they had to help bring people together, they had to create compromises, they had to be present. And as a result we were rewarded for that.”
While the events took place in the Hilton and Sheraton hotels in Midtown, the closing ceremonies were held in the General Assembly Hall at the UN. In the morning the students on the three general assembly committees got to go to the UN and vote on the electronic voting system. They were also able to speak from the designated Turkey seat. In the afternoon everyone was able to join them.
Dr. Chasek was able to speak on the floor of the historic hall during the closing ceremonies. She did so after Peter Thomson, a Fijian diplomat who is currently the president of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Cooper praised the whole program and recommends it to her fellow students at Manhattan College.
“The fact that the school offers it is such as great opportunity that should really be taken advantage of through any international student or government student,” said Cooper. “But it’s also great that the school also allows any major who is interested to become apart of the program.”