Students from three CUNY campuses took the seats of world leaders, debated vexing global issues and won top prizes for excellence in diplomacy at last month’s 25th National Model United Nations Conference.
The 28-member Hunter College Model U.N. team won an Outstanding Delegation award, competing against 2,500 students from 200 colleges. Representing Brazil and Russia, Hunter students also won nine individual awards for Outstanding Position Paper and Outstanding Delegate in Committee.
Students debated topics such as terrorism and disarmament, racial and religious discrimination and violence against women. To tackle these complex geopolitical and cultural issues, the Hunter students prepared with a two-semester course taught by Pamela Falk, a Distinguished Lecturer in American government and international law and the team’s faculty advisor.
“The class and the competition give the students the knowledge of international relations, diplomacy, and negotiation, as well as the expertise in public speaking and debate, all of which serve them well in any career track they choose,” says Falk, who is also a foreign affairs analyst for CBS News and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Students from Queens College and City College also attended the Model UN conference. The Queens delegation represented Algeria, and City College represented Uruguay. Both teams won Distinguished Delegation awards.
“Model U.N. taught me to articulate my thoughts,” says John-David Noguera, the Hunter team’s co-head delegate and a junior studying international relations. “. . . I learned how crucial it is to listen during negotiations and ensure that all parties are in agreement, not just when debating international issues but also in everyday debates and conflicts.”
“I participated in model U.N. in high school. I continue because I want to sit in one of these seats eventually,” says Janiky Santana, a Queens College freshman who hopes her experience representing Algeria in the mock UN will help her become part of the American delegation one day.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke at the conference’s closing ceremony to announce the launch of #YouthNow, a social media campaign to encourage young people to share their ideas on global development issues much like the ones debated at the Model U.N. conference.
“You do not have to be a diplomat or a politician to advance our work,” Ban said. “Everyone with a phone can be a human-rights monitor. Everyone with a screen name can mobilize their friends. All of you can shape the future.”