On Tuesday, Oct. 24, the Saginaw Valley Model United Nations club celebrated UN Day by preparing for its four-day international conference on Nov. 17 in Chicago.
Political science professor Stewart French is the Model UN advisor. French, along with adjunct faculty member Eric Welsby, has helped the team prepare all semester.
“Model UN is the combination of a class and a student organization,” said Welsby. “During the fall, we have this class (World Nations), and during the winter, we carry on as a club and attend smaller-scale conferences.”
According to French and Welsby, the Chicago conference is one of the largest that they attend, with 50-plus schools competing from all around the world. The group roleplays as an assigned nation and negotiates current political issues, learning many valuable skills.
“We teach them a variety of things (students) need to know for the conference,” French said. “We teach them about the rules and regulations, resolution writing and speeches. This class gives (students) real world experiences and puts them in a social and competitive environment with other students from around the globe.”
Model UN helps students learn how to be diplomatic and work alongside others who have differing beliefs and perspectives on current issues. Students are challenged and immersed in experiential learning.
Third-year political science major Jacquob Littlejohn said he has seen himself grow as a student and public speaker because of Model UN.
“Model UN has helped me to become a more informal public speaker,” Littlejohn said. “I’ve done Moot Court for two years now, which focuses on a more aloof style of speaking. Doing Model United Nations has helped me to balance out my speaking skills in this regard.”
French believes that Model UN is beneficial and rewarding because he sees students evolve and transition over time.
Ra’Ven Miller, a third-year political science student and the vice president of Model UN, hopes to spread awareness of the group outside of the political science and international study majors that typically make up most of the membership.
“I believe every major from any of our colleges could benefit,” Miller said. “People join for various reasons from public speaking, negotiation skills, or even to learn more about world affairs. I would tell every interested student, political science major or not, that they can gain valuable life skills. “