First Time Position Paper Award Winners
A delegation of 14 University students simulated the United Nations (UN) at the National Model United Nations Conference (NMUN) in New York from Sunday, April 9 to Thursday, April 13.
NMUN is the world’s largest international college-level experiential learning program in which participants cooperate to discuss and brainstorm solutions to global concerns faced by diplomats of the United Nations, according to their site.
For the first time the delegation from the University returned with a Position Paper Award. The award was won by Liam Coffey, a junior political science and history student.
Five thousand students from six continents participated in the 2017 NMUN conference, and 55 percent of the participants were non-U.S. residents, according to nmun.org.
Participants from the University were enrolled in Model UN Conference course, PS-383, taught by Dr. Kevin Dooley, an associate professor of political science. The delegation represented the Kingdom of Belgium.
“I think attending the NMUN is beneficial to our students because it provides them with an opportunity to discuss important global issues with others from around the world. It brings international relations to life,” said Dooley.
“Since each college has to represent a different country and each student is placed in a different UN committee, it allows every participant the opportunity to become experts in a range of issues. The NMUN mirrors the agendas of the real UN, so students get to see what the UN is actually debating,” Dooley said.
Coffey did not expect to receive any recognition at the conference, as it was his first time participating. He said, “It is such a competitive atmosphere when you go to the conference, and coupled with the amount of prestigious schools that attend, I just did not expect I would win anything the first time around. This conference was my first ever Model UN.”
“I was nervous going into it, especially when some students had been to six or even seven conferences before this. I went there with the mentality to learn the mechanics and to just do the best I could. Winning something was not the top priority for me,” Coffey added.
Dooley said, “I couldn’t be happier for Liam who won Monmouth’s first position paper award. Only about 10 percent of the students receive them at any conference. So Liam did something extraordinary. I am so proud of him.”
Next year the Political Science Department will run the Model UN program through the MUN club instead of through the class, and they are attempting to expand the conference choices to more locations abroad.
According to Dooley, preparation in class during the weeks before the conference was demanding in both research and performance. He said, “Students need to become experts in their committee’s topics because they need to speak about them with a high degree of confidence and negotiate their ideas with dozens of other students.”
The conference began Sunday night with opening committee sessions in the Sheraton and Hilton hotels in Times Square. After changing from travel clothes into western business attire the delegates broke off into their separate committees around 7:30 p.m. Sunday night.
“To be serious, one cannot truly prepare until you get into the first session on the first day,” said Coffey. “In the weeks leading up to the conference, though, all the students going to the conference practiced the mechanics of the conference. This would entail learning the correct phrases…and understanding the rules and procedure of the UN. We created speeches that we thought we would use at the conference, and practiced reading it in front of people, because some of the committees are huge.”
The event was a great learning experience according to Stephanie Lanculovici, a junior political science student. “I learned what different people think about certain topics that are issues worldwide and I was able to learn a lot about cultures by meeting so many people from different places around the world,” she said.
On Monday the group met for lunch before the delegates had to prepare for their second day committee sessions from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. According to the conference program during these sessions students were creating alliances, giving speeches, and discussing solutions to problems outlined on their committees agenda.
According to Dooley these sessions are beneficial to students. He said, “The most interesting aspect of the Model UN is its ability to engage students in relevant issues; to teach them about diplomacy and negotiation; and to provide them with public speaking, and writing skills.”
Tuesday and Wednesday sessions were similar to one another. However, tensions got high as delegates competed for recognition within their committees.
The conference ended on Thursday after students attended the closing ceremony at the United Nations Headquarters. Students were able to sit in the seats where diplomats and politicians debate global issues on a weekly basis.
The NMUN conference, according to Coffey, was a memorable experience. He said, “The people you meet from all over the world makes the conference so interesting. I worked with kids that lived in France, Germany, India, and even Dubai. Even though the conference ended, I’m still talking to people that I became friends with.”
“Even if someone was on the fence and not sure if they wanted to go to a Model UN conference, I would tell them to try it. I was the same way in the weeks leading up to it, and after attending, I can honestly say it was worth it,” Coffey continued.
PHOTO COURTESY of Kevin Dooley