through Victor Franco, Editor-in-chief
For the first time since the pandemic, Pamela Chasek, Ph.D., chair of the political science department at Manhattan College, was able to physically take the students to the United Nations National Model Conference in Washington DC, and returned with a honorable mention and two awards for outstanding position papers.
The United Nations Model National Conference is held twice a year, in different locations, providing hundreds of students with the opportunity to engage in discussions on international diplomatic affairs.
Students attending the conference take a class with Chasek, so that when the time comes, students are prepared for any conversation regarding the topic of the conference.
In the event, students are divided into groups with other students from across the country to delegate and represent a certain region. This year, the Manhattan College delegation formed the People’s Republic of China.
“Each committee has two topics, and the students had to prepare their position papers from China perspective by representing China on these 2 topics,” Chasek said. “So what they have to do is research both the issues themselves and the Chinese position. And, some of the topics are particularly difficult for China. “
Ben Bagbek, a dual major in political science and economics, attended the event and described that he was able to talk about his interests, and once in his group he spoke about “sustainability, especially sustainable development goals and its relationship to everything else in the world. ”
During the conference, many students have to create counter-arguments on many points made by other students, while remaining courteous and respectful.
“The conference is entirely devoted to diplomacy,” Bagbek said. “Even if people disagreed with my arguments, I should interpret my arguments in a way that seems to benefit everyone. “
Although this was the third time Bagbek had attended the conference, it was the first time he had attended in person. The conference provided not only him, but all the other students, the opportunity to meet new students and learn from each other.
“This is the best networking experience I have had. I’ve met so many people, and eventually you can meet your best friends for life, ”Bagbek said.
Maggie Tonns, a double major in International Studies and Peace and Justice Studies, also attended the Model United Nations Conference.
“Remaining diplomatic with some member states was a challenge. We had to make sure that everything that was said had to be within the framework of what China was already doing on the topics, ”Tonns said. “It’s really great fun, the conference is so engaging, you really feel in it, you feel like a member of the UN. ”
Liola Moody has a degree in Political Science and International Studies and was in the same group as Tonns at the conference. Moody explains that her experience at the conference was difficult because she represented a country she had never known.
“You realize that you kind of represent a country that you don’t personally align with in its politics, but you still have to appreciate the argument you have to make,” she said.
With the help of Chasek’s class, Moody was able to learn to overcome this.
“We were representing the Republic of China, which was a pretty controversial country to cover, so you get contrite answers but we were well prepared for that,” Moody said.
Chasek was moved by the efforts of all the students to prove their points of view and by how the conference turned out to help all the students develop professionally.
“Over the years, students from all five schools have participated in the United Nations model,” Chasek told The Quadrangle. “And, there is something for everyone, whether you’re a science student, an engineer, whatever. But, what it does is it teaches you to feel comfortable speaking in public, sometimes as much in front of 300 people. It teaches you how to negotiate, a skill you will need throughout your life, whether you are negotiating a car purchase or negotiating, you know, rent or mortgage payment or getting employment or salary benefits. be for you to somehow learn these skills of how to negotiate how to respond to others. ”
Teamwork is also reinforced in the conference and is present in each of the delegations.
“Thanks to this, you learn to work in a team, because the delegation is a team. We are as strong as our weakest link. So they all need to support and help each other along the way, even though they’re in different rooms, ”Chasek said.
The successes of the Manhattan College students at the conference were impressive and a testament to the group’s passions, especially since it was most of their first in-person presentation for the Model UN conference.
“They were all on their game,” Chasek said. “They were all there. They were all active on working on several resolutions. It was super impressive what they were able to do with limited training, because in the fall it’s not a class, it’s a club. I only meet one hour a week, as opposed to three hours a week for the class, and we only got to meet, you know, less than two months before the conference. So given all of that and the lack of experience, they were awesome.
In the spring, students will represent New Zealand and tackle completely new issues and structures.