ND, SMC students attend Model UN conference
Alex Winegar | Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Seven Saint Mary’s College students traveled to Harvard University from Feb. 13-16 to compete at the Harvard National Model United Nations Conference. On Tuesday, as part of the Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership (CWIL) lunchtime series, five participants shared their experience at Harvard.
Model United Nations is a classroom club that attends conferences where the participants role-play as delegates of the United Nations. Each school is given a country and then appoints delegates who are then assigned to different committees, junior Maddie Madvad said.
“The delegates for each committee are assigned topics,” Madvad said. “They have to research the topics and then form political opinions based on whatever country they are assigned so that they can represent them at the conference.”
In each committee, participants debate topics they have researched and try to create resolutions that address various political issues, Madvad said.
The Harvard conference is slightly different from the other United Nation conferences around the country, sophomore Grace Morrison said.
“This conference is the largest, oldest and most prestigious conference of its kind,” Morrison said. “It is staffed entirely by Harvard undergrad students [and] has over 3,000 students and faculty that come together from all across the globe. Every single continent except Antarctica is represented. It is the most diverse conference around.”
SMC and the Notre Dame teams combined because neither school had enough members to go on their own, senior head delegate Alex Penler said. The team was given two countries, Costa Rica and Madagascar.
Morrison, who served on the social, humanitarian and cultural committee, said she learned the importance of international relationships and how important it is to participate in the conference.
“The Harvard conference really helps to make a difference in the world because it brings attention to a lot of issues in relevance,” Morrison said. “The cultural experience was amazing. It gives you the opportunity to connect with people all over the world that you wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet.
“Even though they are from however many miles away, they care about the same type of issues that we do.”
Penler said in her four years, she spent most of her time traveling around the world through her history and political science classes, which gave her real world experience to work with at the conference.
”I actually want to work in international development and global health, so conferences could be something that influences the rest of my life,” Penler said.
Nicole O’Toole, a junior political science major and business minor, said she learned about international law and can apply many of the things she learned at the conference to her studies.
“[International law is] something I’m interested in going to in to. It relates to my education at Saint Mary’s because a lot of things that I have studied will help me make a difference in the world, O’Toole said. “We met so many people from so many different countries. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Senior Ariane Umutoni said she learned how to put herself in others’ shoes.
“I think this [conference] helped me see how people see their own self versus other people’s opinions and beliefs,” Umotoni said. “From now I think I will focus more on listening. Everything has another story.”