Monday, March 28, 2016

UNO's National Model United Nations Team Marks Six Years of Award-Winning Performances

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The University of New Orleans Model United Nations Delegation returned this week from the National MUN Conference in New York where its representation of the Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand earned four awards, including a Distinguished Delegation Award, two Outstanding Position Paper Awards and one Outstanding Delegation in Committee Award. NMUN-NYC is the world's largest and most prestigious conference of its kind, bringing nearly 5,000 students from around the globe to spend a week simulating the caucusing, resolution writing, and negotiating of the United Nations.

"All of the UNO students enjoyed the opportunity NMUN affords them to network on an international level while at the same time showcasing the University of New Orleans," said John Hazlett, director of the University's bachelor's degree program in international studies. "Many delegates from this year's team plan to return to New York City next year, and after six years of award-winning participation, it seems sure that the program will continue to grow. Interested students should keep an eye out for open recruitment starting in September."

According to Hazlett, this is the seventh time that UNO has been selected to compete and the sixth consecutive year the UNO delegation brought home awards. The team has previously represented St Vincent and the Grenadines (2010), Honduras (2011), Austria (2012), Socialist Republic of Vietnam (2013), Syrian Arab Republic (2014), and the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal (2015).

The 29-member UNO delegation was as diverse in countries of origin as it was in academic levels and disciplines represented. Students from 10 different home countries, including Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Honduras, Mexico, Nepal, Palestine, the United States, Venezuela, and Vietnam, represented all levels of study, with nine freshmen, four sophomores, five juniors, nine seniors, and four post-grads. The group consisted of students from 14 different fields of study, including anthropology, biology, civil and environmental engineering, counselor education, electrical engineering, English, film, finance, international studies, history, computer science, mechanical engineering, political science, psychology and sociology. 

Conference attendees included: Shisir Acharya (mechanical engineering, freshman, Nepal), Matthew Bravender (history, senior, U.S.), Hope Brusstar (international studies, freshman, U.S.), Benjamin Cummings (computer science, senior, U.S.), Ashis Dahal (international studies, post-BA, Nepal), Tien Dinh (biology and sociology, sophomore, Vietnam), Gabrielle Gallon (international studies, senior, U.S.), Hugo Garza (international studies, senior, Mexico), Ariel Hernandez (biology, junior, Honduras), Eden Jonascu (international studies, freshman, U.S.), Daniel Lamplugh (film, freshman, U.S.), Lorvelis Amelia Madueno (anthropology and Asian Studies, freshman, Venezuela), Amanda Mancilla (international studies, senior, U.S. and Venezuela), Monica Montalvo (international studies, graduate student, U.S.), Bikesh Pandey (computer science, sophomore, Nepal), Victoria Peluso (international studies, freshman, U.S.), Arione Pierce (finance and global business, junior, U.S.), Sanjiv Pradhanang (computer science, freshman, Nepal), Nishan Rayamajhee (computer science, freshman, Nepal), Meagan Riche (international studies, sophomore, U.S.), Martin Schefzik (English and history, junior, Austria), Jack Sconza (political science, senior, U.S.), Laura Srpova (American Studies, graduate student, Czech Republic), David Teagle (international studies, senior, U.S.), Matthias Thome (English and American Studies, senior, Germany), Ashraya Upadhyaya (civil and environmental engineering, sophomore, Nepal), Thanh Vo (biology, junior, Vietnam), Yannick Wiberg (psychology, graduate student, Germany), and Rana Zedian (biology, junior, Palestine).

Year-Long Preparation

To prepare for the conference, the group began meeting in the fall of 2015, when it selected the delegation members and petitioned the National MUN Office to represent Australia at the conference, said Hazlett. This spring, the group began meeting twice weekly in IS 3060 (Model United Nations), a course Hazlett organized as part of the University's BA in International Studies program. In the course, students researched the foreign policy histories of Australia and New Zealand and practiced the conventions of United Nations speeches and negotiation techniques. By February, the students paired up to work in committees to formulate position papers covering 39 topics chosen by the National MUN staff from among issues confronting the actual UN. These included terrorism, sustainability and development, drug trafficking, migration and human rights, small arms control, civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict, green economy and transportation, child marriage and clean water accessibility, among others.

Rewards and Opportunities

Once again, the UNO Model UN received generous support from the UNO administration to cover airfare and hotel costs for the trip to New York, Hazlett said. Additional support was provided by UNO Student Government, the Division of International Education, Center Austria, the College of Liberal Arts, the BA in International Studies program as well as several UNO faculty, students and private citizens.  The UNO community’s commitment to and support for the MUN program has, as always, helped motivate the team to perform at their best.

Students worked diligently from 7:30 a.m. until midnight every day of the five-day conference, which was held from March 20 to March 25.  Among their activities was a two-hour briefing with staff at Australia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations that greatly enhanced their understanding of diplomatic language and Australia’s position on a variety of issues. The group attended a speaker series featuring correspondents from major news media and representatives of various political and non-governmental organizations and also took the time to enjoy some New York City attractions. For many of this year’s delegates, the week also provided an eye-opening look at future career options at an opportunities fair. The highlight of the week came on the final day, when all delegates packed the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations to listen to closing speeches by diplomats and UN officers and to receive their awards.