Students share their experience at the National Model UN Conference in NYC

Six Roanoke College students returned last week from three fun and excitement-filled days in NYC.  But they weren’t there as mere tourists.  Together with their mentor, Dr. Rubongoya, they went to New York to represent Roanoke College in the biggest national annual Model United Nations conference.  They certainly got some sightseeing done, but they also got to practice their diplomatic skills and test their knowledge in heated debates with members of other MUN delegations, on the floor of the UN building.


What is Model UN and what was the conference like?

Laura (MUN president): Model United Nations is an organization that emphasizes diplomacy and international issues of our time. It fosters debate through simulating the actual proceedings of the UN and allows students to get a better grasp about international politics and the world around them. This year we went to the National MUN conference in NYC, which is a huge four-day simulation of the actual UN. Each school is assigned a country to represent in the simulation and students debate current policies while creating some new ones.  Our delegation represented Palestine.

How did you get involved and what preparation was required for the conference?

Matt: I first became involved in Model UN when we would did simulations in my high school AP Comparative Government Class. I loved the debate, the writing of resolutions, and the secret voting pacts made under the table. It was an exhilarating experience, so I wanted to try out a real MUN conference.

As to what preparation was necessary, one had to first, and most importantly, understand the views of the country they were representing. Furthermore, it was critical to understand the views of other countries as well to be able to find allies in the assembly. What was necessary was a very complex understanding of world opinions, and the ability to solve problems by overlapping these differing views.

What did you take away from the conference?

Brynn: What I took away most from the conference was the realization of how much time, detail, and effort goes into trying to write resolutions to combat global issues. It’s not as easy as it seems when you have hundreds of countries disagreeing left and right on urgent issues!

What did you take away from the conference?

Emily: One thing I took away from the conference was a sense of appreciation for the UN. In IR classes, we learn about its history and functions and the resolutions it has passed, but this conference actually made it real.  Having to tackle specific issues while representing our countries’ perspectives rather than our own was very challenging, but in the end, it was very rewarding because we came up with actual, workable solutions to world issues.

The Roanoke College MUN delegation in 2014 included: Brynn MacDougall, Matthew Modlin, Anas Almasri, Emily Crane, Wesley Knowles, and Laura Lee Wight.