An elite group of students live it up in New York City for five days while tackling issues that countries around the world deal with on a daily basis.
This is most notably known as Model United Nations, a conference in which college students worldwide represent a country or organization in a simulation session of the United Nations.
“Model UN is a study-abroad trip for a whole semester. For many weeks you study and write to represent a single country for a one week trip. In that one week you not only represent, you report. Model UN is the study-abroad trip without the cost; you meet and learn from almost every nation on this earth, from the developed West to the emerging East,” said senior Kyle Wimbrough.
Much preparation behind the scenes is required, and students devote their time to preparing for this unique, academic experience.
“In Model UN students research a country, learn about the UN, write position papers, learn about committee structure, become experts in important international issues, negotiate, write resolutions, debate, make international friends, write reports, make speeches, role play, tour NYC, amend documents, meet international dignitaries, learn about other cultures, walk in the shadows of greatness, achieve academic credit and have an amazing time doing it,” said Dr. Aubrey Westfall, assistant professor of political science.
The students’ motives for joining the team becomes what drives them to succeed on the trip to New York City.
“I wanted to participate in Model UN because it is an excellent opportunity to get a first-hand experience of the daily events of a UN delegate. A student is able to be put in the perspective of another country, and is determined to negotiate in favor of not only one country, but of the world. It is essential to maintain international awareness and to preserve the relevance of the United Nations as an important world body. Model UN puts students in the heart of peace negotiation,” said junior Joshua Beatty.
Throughout their journey, students apply their knowledge from the previous months to the simulation, meet new people and gain skills they can bring back to campus.
“I learned a lot from the trip. I learned that if you look at every situation from different lenses and see the world as others do, you can learn a lot that the classroom does not teach you. I met people from around the world and they taught me a lot and I’m better for it. I hope I get to meet them again and many more,” said junior Owen James.
Participants were able to take back not only valuable skills but heartwarming experiences and memories from the trip of a lifetime.
“Model UN teaches negotiation skills, interpersonal skills, cultural differences, public speaking skills, presentation skills, critical thinking, and so many more skills. I take all of these things from Model UN, and I also take away great memories and make some fantastic friends,” said sophomore Katie Stefano.
Members of the team have high hopes for the future of Model UN.
“I hope to see the Virginia Wesleyan team continue to attend the New York and DC conferences, and perhaps expand into smaller regional conferences as well, with a large and diverse enough team to sustain itself for many years to come,” said sophomore Maria Marinelli.
Overall, the experience is rewarding for the students; all of the hard work paid off once they received the Honorable Mention Delegation, given by the National Colligate College Association, while on this trip.
“Model UN energizes me as a teacher, because I can watch the students connect with the material and give it personal meaning. They become engaged global citizens before my eyes,” said Dr. Westfall.