On Nov. 16-18, the Bellevue College Model United Nations club participated in Northwest Model United Nations conference in Seattle, Wash., alongside 12 colleges from the Pacific Northwest. The BC Model U.N. regularly competes alongside universities such as Oregon State University, the University of Washington and Lewis & Clark College.
To prepare for the conference, students in the Model U.N. became experts on their country. “We read a lot,” said Megan Phan, a delegate for the Model U.N. who represented Guatemala. “Basically when we’re bored, we have to read the news. We have to read the news as our hobby in order to be mentally prepared.” According to Phan, students must become familiar with not only the country they are representing, but also with relationships between other countries. However, Phan did not appear to mind the effort: “I notice that if you’re passionate about a topic, research means nothing. It’s just almost like you do it for fun because what you’re researching is what you like.”
Mark Orines, who represented Gambia, emphasized the importance of being familiar with other countries’ policies, commenting that “If you’re in opposition to other countries’ policies or what they’re trying to push for, you need to be able to disseminate their arguments so you can gain a diplomatic leg up.”
Veteran delegate Alvin Loong, who represented Cameroon, added, “A lot of people have heard of the U.N. in real life, and they just don’t know what it does. When students go to Model U.N. conferences, they try to explore and appreciate what the U.N. does…We see the problems that we usually ignore because we’re growing up in the United States, so it is really educational for a lot of people who haven’t been able to open their eyes to what’s happening outside of the United States.”
During the NWMUN conference, students debated real-world issues such as the situation in Myanmar, the civil war in Sudan and food security. “My experience at [the conference] was very eye-opening, because I didn’t know anything about the U.N. or how it worked, but this really gave me insight as to how it actually works in the world,” said Victor Houssa, a delegate who attended the NWMUN conference.
“It was one of those types of things that you do where you learn a lot really quickly, so in terms of value, learning how the U.N. actually works and earning how global politics actually works just gives some more perspective on all the news you see,” said Chris Gledhill, another delegate who attended the conference. “Anytime you see the news or hear about what’s going on in the world…you gain an added kind of perspective for how things are added and decided. I thought it was really valuable.”
Aside from actual delegations, the conference also featured a keynote speech from Brian Baird, PhD, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives. There was also an opportunity fair, where students had the option to network with admissions officers from graduate schools and organizations offering internships.
At the conference, delegates can win awards for their diplomacy. Loong, however, doesn’t care about winning anything: “You can get awards, but that isn’t the point. The point is that we came together to resolve something that happened in the world today.”
The BC Model U.N. meets from 1:30-3:20 in B-204. For more information, contact Tim Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.