From April 3 to April 7, 2012, 23 of Bellevue College’s students travelled to New York City for the annual National Model United Nations (NMUN-NY) conferences, the most challenging and most competitive NMUN conferences in the world. By the end of five long working days, the Bellevue College Delegation won the Honorable Mention Award. In addition, students Vinnie Geer and Iman Hein were nominated by the delegates within their committee and won the Committee Outstanding Delegation Award. Students Auric Kaur and Joshua Shen won the Best Position Paper Award in their committee.
More than 6,000 students from all over the world travelled to New York City to participate in the conferences. Due to the large number of participants, the conferences were actually divided into two sections. The Bellevue College Delegation participated in the Marriott Hotel, while student Jwanah Qudsi participated as an individual delegate at the Sheraton Hotel.
“I signed up for NMUN before I came to the United States so I wasn’t representing BC, I was representing my old school back in France,” said Qudsi.
The NMUN program is a simulation of the United Nations. Delegates from all over the world meet at conferences in order to represent their assigned country and discuss world issues. Students then have to represent their country to the best of their ability with regards to the issues under discussion.
For this particular conference, the Bellevue College Delegation represented Cuba and were divided in pairs into different committees including; General Assembly (GA) First Committee (GA1), GA Second Committee (GA2), GA Third Committee (GA3), the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO,) and the Human Rights Council, along with several other committees. While the BC Delegation was divided into these committees, Qudsi represented Lebanon in the Security Council.
With the exception of Qudsi, who represented her school in France, the BC Delegation was composed of students enrolled in the United Nations class on campus. The UN class is divided into three classes, one per quarter, and all classes are taught by the Chair of the Political Science and International Relations Department, Tim Jones. Because of this, the majority of the students had been preparing for the NMUN-NY conferences since fall 2011.
“There was a lot of preparation, not only in terms of paperwork but in studying for tests in the class and making sure I had all the knowledge about my country’s particular stance on women’s rights,” said student Iman Hein, Delegate of CSW. Hein also said “We started with a basic background on Cuba, at which point we joined a committee and then began to research in-depth the topics which we would be discussing and debating in committee.”
At the conference, committee sessions lasted between six to nine hours a day, with breaks in between for lunch and dinner, but students seldom used these breaks. Instead they would work through them to finish any work left over from previous sessions. All students agreed that there is much to learn at NMUN conferences, including how to become a better public speaker, a diplomat and a debater, but most importantly all participants learn to work with people from all over the world, with ideas very different than their own.
“The best part of the conference was being able to meet with students from around the world. It exposed me to different cultures and ideas on a much more personal level than what I’m able to find at school or through people I meet in Washington. Coming together with people from Italy and Germany and Asia -just to name a few places- was an experience I’ll never forget,” said student Masha Jouravleva, Delegate of GA2.
Aside from making connections with students from other countries, students got to visit the United Nations Headquarters where they were awarded the Honorable Mention Delegation Award (an award given to the delegationa as a whole rather than specific individuals) and also met with the Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations as part of their preparation for committee sessions.
In their free time, students went to Times Square, Broadway, Central Park, Columbia University, SOHO, Little Italy, China Town, the Statue of Liberty, and New Jersey amongst many other places.
For more information on how to get involved with the MUN program on campus contact Tim Jones.