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Hunter College Model U.N. Team Sweeps Awards at National Model U.N. in Washington, D.C.

The Hunter College Model United Nations team won the highest awards at the National Model U.N./Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference, co-sponsored by the Osgood Center for International Studies, for both the Team’s work and for their writing in the national competition in Washington, D.C.

Hunter College represented the United States in seven separate working group committees and authored reports on issues including the humane use of biofuels and APEC’s attractiveness to private international investment. The Hunter College Model U.N. team took home the top-tier awards in all three categories: Outstanding Delegation, Outstanding Position Papers, and Outstanding Committee Delegates. Two team members also took home Peer Awards, a particular honor, since it reflects the delegate’s diplomacy skills and work with other college’s delegates.

“I could not possibly be prouder of my fellow delegates and of our entire team,” declared Jesús Pérez, the team’s Senior Head Delegate, “What really made the difference at this Conference was the outstanding abilities of our new students on the Hunter Model U.N. Team, working with a half dozen of second semester experienced Team members.” The Team’s faculty advisor, Professor Pamela Falk teaches the class the students take to prepare for the competitions. “Our strength is our students,” said Dr. Falk, “they work long hours preparing, engage with students and diplomats from around the world, and respect the other delegations at the conferences.”

Dr. Shelton Williams, President of the Osgood Center for International Studies and  a former advisor to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and special assistant to Madeleine Albright  met with the Hunter College team and told them  ‘war stories’ from his time representing the U.S. on issues of nuclear non-proliferation. Hunter students David Hunter Walsh and Jeffrey Ruiz worked long hours on all the logistics and training sessions, with Team members Katherine Salinas - alongside the Head Delegate Yev Feyman and Senior Head Delegate Pérez.

Members of the Hunter College team agreed that their experience at the first-ever NMUN-APEC was a one-of-a-kind educational opportunity. Senior GraceAnn Barrett, who addressed fiscal corruption and money-laundering in the International Security Working Group, called it an educational “trial by fire,” and added, “Preparing for the next conference, I have so much more confidence now.” Her partner, Salim Westvind, a Hunter junior, called the experience “an amazing window into U.S. policy -- actually engaging in the diplomacy we all talk about so much.” Montserrat Macuer, a senior, who discussed cutting-edge economic developments on the Trade and Development Working Group, echoed Westvind’s sentiments, calling it “a sense of reality” regarding abstract global issues. Marcos Polonia, a junior who served in the Food Security Working Group, joked: “I now know so much more about biofuels than I ever wanted to know.”

Michael Eaton, Executive Director, National Model U.N., said that one of the benefits of this conference, which took place to coordinate with the actual APEC meeting in Washington, was that delegates could meet the actual diplomats and interact with them.

Most delegates praised the unique design of this simulation. APEC has 21 member nations (or “member economies”), which make it relatively small international organization, compared to other international bodies such as the General Assembly. Ms. Macuer said that this “forced me out of my comfort zone, and pushed me to do awesome things.” Many found that this kind of simulation was particularly good for drawing delegates together to more diligently seek compromise through reasoned and informed debate. “The forced consensus was great because it forces us to involve everyone, to educate everyone, to be less antagonistic in general,” says Zoe Kaplan-Lewis, a senior who served on the Energy Working Group and discussed innovation in green technologies. “We’re working here with economies rather than nations, so it’s naturally a little less controversial and we get more of the practical side of the issue. I think the energy policy that we came up with here, revolving around a ‘best practices’ list, we could really use, in the real world.”

Delegates had similar praise for the work of their committee, expressing confidence that the work they did was no less than the work that the actual APEC produces. Senior Veronica Ng found this driven home for her when the earthquake in Japan occurred while she and her committee were debating science and technology in emergency preparedness. “We were talking about my favorite topic, actually - using text-messaging to communicate during emergencies - and I’m reading about the earthquake in the New York Times, and the Times is talking about this exact same thing here!” Veronica and her partner, senior Nadja Boncoeur, were the two delegates that earned the team its Outstanding Committee Delegation for their work in the Emergency Preparedness Working Group. Nadja was also very passionate about this chosen topic: “we always assume text-messaging is available outside the U.S., but it really has yet to expand to a lot of developing countries.”

One of the team’s newest members, freshman Eden Volkov, had much to say about how transformative this Model U.N. experience was for her as a student. “We had to try and embody this idea of APEC as a consensus-building body, and we came to acknowledge the fact that some things Russia just didn’t want to sign onto, or China had problems with, that everyone had their sticking points - but in the end, since we were passing a report with so many great points to it that everyone had all come up with together, in the end, everyone had to admit that we all wanted to see it pass.”

The Team will be moving right into the Baruch College Model UN just two weeks after this simulation, and will then be looking forward to the NMUN conference in New York, in part at U.N. Headquarters. There, the additional members of the Team, including Hunter students Alisa Gore, Nick Pelosi and Mark Cheney, not-related to the politicians), Andres Pazmino, Michael Sanduski, Miri Shpuza, and Kathleen Touset will represent Somalia and the Dominican Republic.


Published on March 15, 2011

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