Wednesday, April 23, 2014

UNO's National Model United Nations Team Racks Up Awards in NYC

model united nations university of new orleansThe University of New Orleans Model United Nations Delegation returned this week from the National MUN Conference in New York with a Distinguished Delegation Award and three others.

The University of New Orleans Model United Nations Delegation returned this week from the National MUN Conference in New York with a Distinguished Delegation Award for their representation of the Syrian Arab Republic. The award places the 19-member delegation in the second tier of award winners.

"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 NYC next year, and after four 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."

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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. This year marks the fifth year that UNO has been selected to compete, said Hazlett. This year also marks the fourth consecutive year that the UNO delegation has taken home awards. In addition to the overall delegation award, the group also won two Outstanding Position Paper Awards and an Outstanding Delegation in Committee Award.

This year's UNO delegation was one of the more diverse delegations at the conference, which ran April 13-18 at the United Nations in New York City, said Hazlett. The group included three students from Nepal, three from France, ten from the US, one from Venezuela, one from Puerto Rico, and one from Russia.

UNO's delegation included these students, who are listed here with their majors: Pradip Adhikari (Computer Science), Aurelie Bellot (BAIS), Mary Grace Bernard (BAIS/French), Ashis Dahal (BAIS), Gabrielle Gallon (BAIS), Chase Hukins (BAIS/Spanish), Emanèse Jeanty (International Student Exchange/ France), Francisco Juelle (BAIS), Jahi Mackey (BAIS), Amanda Mancilla (BAIS), Monica Montalvo (BAIS), Samip Neupane (Biology), Svetlana Pizzati (BAIS), David Reyes (BAIS), Johnnie Roberson (BAIS), Eudoxie Sallaz (National Student Exchange/Canada-France), David Teagle (BAIS), Gaetano Venezia (Music), and Dawn Williams (BAIS).

Year-Long Preparation

To prepare for the conference, the group began meeting in the fall semester 2013, when they selected their delegation members and petitioned the National MUN Office to represent Syria at the conference, said Hazlett. In past years, the University has represented St. Vincent and the Grenadines (2010), Honduras (2011), Austria (2012), and The Socialist Republic of Vietnam (2013) in the model UNO competition.

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. For the first time, the group expanded its leadership to include additional staff, which greatly enhanced the delegation's ability to carry out its research, said Hazlett. Class sessions were led by Chief Head Delegate Chase Hukins (BAIS'14), with the assistance of Master of Public Administration student Brett Netto (BAIS '13) and International Division Staff Member Ines Sigel (BAIS '07).

In the course, students researched Syria's foreign policy history and practiced the conventions of United Nations speeches and negotiation techniques. By February, the students paired up to work in committees to formulate a Position Paper covering 24 topics chosen by the National MUN staff from among issues confronting the actual UN, including: chemical weapons control, terrorism and WMD, sustainability and development, migration and human rights, civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict, green economy and transportation, production of biofuels, and preservation of linguistic diversity, among others.

The group invited a number of speakers to the help them in their preparations, including Professor Emeritus Georgette Ioup, former US Ambassador to Syria Theodore H. Kattouf (who participated via Skype); UNO's Vice President for Business Affairs Dr. Gregg Lassen, and former journalist and current Senior Public Relations Specialist Laila Morcos.

Rewards and Opportunities

This year, the UNO Model UN received generous support from President Peter Fos and the UNO administration to cover airfare and hotel costs for the trip to New York, said Hazlett. Delegates raised the remaining costs of the conference.

"The administration's commitment to the MUN program has helped motivate the team to perform at their best," said Hazlett.

Students worked diligently from 7:30 a.m. till midnight every day of the week-long conference, said Hazlett, but they also enjoyed the attractions of the Big Apple and attended a speaker series that included correspondents from major news media and representatives of various political and non-governmental organizations.

For many of this year's delegates, the week also provided an eye-opening look at future career options at the conference's Opportunities Fair, he said.

"The highlight of the week came on the final day, when all delegates gathered in the General Assembly of the United Nations to listen to a closing speech by Deputy Secretary-General of the UN Jan Eliasson of Sweden, and to receive their awards," said Hazlett.