Model U.N. teams fail to negotiate conference win

Thirty SVSU students and four faculty advisers traveled to Chicago, Illinois, to represent the countries of Peru and Morocco in a simulated conference similar to those held by the United Nations.

The 25th annual American Model United Nations International Collegiate Conference, held from Nov. 22 to Nov. 25 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, hosted more than 1,400 students and faculty members.

Students participating in Model U.N. must break into teams that represent member countries of the United Nations. Then, teams work in specialized committees to forward the interests of their respective countries.

During the fall semesters, Model U.N. is offered as a class at SVSU: PS 364. During the winter semesters, students join the Saginaw Valley Model United Nations club to participate.

Began in 2007, SVSU’s Model U.N. program has experienced many successes; in 2011, students’ portrayal of the Russian Federation earned best delegation.

However, the program did not win any awards at this conference.

Jared Quist, communication and political science senior and president of SVSU’s Model U.N. program, said that his participation gave him a newfound appreciation for the difficulties facing the actual United Nations.

“I represented Morocco on the Historical Security Council (of) 1993,” Quist said. “As my partner Kayla (Langmaid) and I worked with the other nations on the council to develop solutions to the problems facing the world during that time period, we could see how our decisions were changing history in the simulation. Sometimes we would make things better, and sometimes we would make things worse.”

He also emphasized the unique opportunity the conference provided to think about the world from a different perspective.

“By focusing on the opinions and backgrounds of different countries, students begin thinking globally, rather than from the perspective of their own country,” Quist said.

This was the second year Ashley Stone, a political science junior and vice president of SVSU’s Model U.N. program, attended the conference.

“The first year you attend the American Model United States is a huge learning curve,” she said. “As a second year, it was great to apply the negotiating and improved research skills I gained the previous year. Every year, your skill set grows, so my biggest takeaway is the perseverance and diplomacy that comes with this conference.”

While Quist and Stone believe the skills needed to realistically simulate a United Nations conference are personally beneficial, as Stone is pursuing a law degree and Quist plans to work in government, they also see them as useful for any student.

“Regardless of your major or career goals, the training is applicable to all areas, and really boosts a student’s professional confidence,” Stone said.

“While the (Model U.N.) class is housed in the political science department, you don’t have to have any specific major to join. Biology, criminal justice, and economics major have all participated in Model U.N., among others,” Quist added.

One skill particularly transferrable, no matter one’s future plans, is the research behind the conference simulations.

“We did … research throughout the semester in order to become experts on our policy area and be able to accurately represent the positions held by our country,” Chelsea Coffey, political science senior and representative for Peru on the Commission for Social Development, said. “It’s a great way to learn how to negotiate and create relations in a professional setting.”

“This way, students learn about their country’s history and position on topics,” Quist said.

Stone believes experiential courses such as Model U.N. are important because they attract the talent and attention of incoming students.

“Our team always is received at the conference with respect and, in turn, the university’s reputation is fostered,” she said.

In the 2015 American Model United Nations, SVSU students will represent the Democratic Republic of Congo and Portugal.

The next conference the SVSU Model U.N. program will attend is the Michigan Model Arab League in Grand Rapids, Michigan, from Feb. 12 to 14, 2015. Any students interested in participating should contact Quist at [email protected].

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