Model United Nations is a program Bellevue College takes part in each year, traveling to a different conference each quarter to collaborate and debate with delegates of schools around the region, nation or world. “Model UN is just what it sounds like: we are leading how the United Nations operates and them we get to simulate what it would really be like on a committee,” said Ellen Gilley, BCMUN’s current communications officer. “In class, we learn more about international relations, diplomacy and international problem solving.”
The BCMUN class is taught by Dr. Tim Jones, the head of the political science department and MUN advisor. A student of Jones, Sheany Yasuko Tajima, current secretary of BCMUN, “wanted to learn how the UN works, because a lot of times we just know the big picture, but we don’t really know how the committee works.” This class has been the great opportunity for her. Working in the simulation committees with MUN is “a very precious learning experience,” and she doesn’t think students can get it “anywhere else except from this club.” She said that “Tim, our instructor and advisor, has really inspired not just me, but us a whole class, to really be into what we’re doing.”
Yukimi Mizuno, an international student whose friends recommended the class to her, believes that “studying is not confined to a desk, not just reading books. The experience that a student can get from Model UN is more political, you get to learn how to talk to people, how to work with people and collaborate. These experiences students cannot get from simple classrooms.” Mizuno was part of the International Business Proficiency program and was meant to return to Japan after being in the U.S. for one year, but after studying here she realized “people are more interactive, the style of teaching is very different from Japanese universities.”
Yasuko Tajima is majoring in international relations and is a part of Amnesty International, but believes that anyone can benefit from joining MUN. “It’s not just about learning how counties work, it’s also about teamwork and learning to speak in public,” as well as other skills of that nature.
Shane Rectenwald, vice president of the club, said, “MUN has really helped me shape my world view,” expanding consciousness and awareness. “My family is from Europe and so I [had] never really paid attention to poorer countries or any other issues affecting them. Now I do.”
While preparing for and participating in the conferences, Tyler Philips, a Running Start student who has been taking MUN since fall, said that “As times goes on, the community becomes closer and closer.” While working in the class, students are given the opportunity to “recognize [their] strengths and weaknesses.” He sees MUN as an enjoyable experience that “looks great on a transcript… and [is] a good indicator of what a career in the UN would be like.”
During the conferences, the student delegates are being evaluated and may be nominated for awards at the end of the conference. During the New York Conference, some real delegates from the UN are also in attendance, and “they listen to the ideas that the youth and the younger generations provide,” shared Victor Houssa, who won the Distinguished Delegate award at the North West Model United Nations conferences this fall.
BCMUN is funded generously by BC, but there are still students who couldn’t normally afford to take the trip to the national MUN, which is in New York this year. To cover the costs of these fees, which add up to between $100 and $300, the BCMUN club “organizes bake sales and other activities to fundraise for those students.”