Twenty Randolph students recently spent a week in New York City representing the Republic of Tunisia at the National Model United Nations (NMUN) conference.
At the conference, students learned about the UN system, the assigned issues of each of its committees, and the Tunisian positions on those issues. Some of the specific items students discussed were promoting access to renewable and sustainable energy, promoting equal access to education, ensuring universal access to water, agribusiness and entrepreneurship development for poverty reduction, and transforming refugee camps into sustainable settlements in the case of protracted displacement.
Six students—Shataaxi Joshi ’19, Lauren Mason ’16, head delegate Tahan Menon ’16, head delegate Erica Quijano ’17, Kiaorea Wright ’16, and Kristiana Kuqi ’18—received best position paper awards for work on their respective committees. Position papers are policy memos prepared in advance of the conference by student delegates announcing the position they will take on issues on behalf of the countries they represent.
Participation on the Model UN team is competitive and selective. Enrollment in Political Science 220 “Global Issues at the United Nations” is required of all participants. As one of the head delegates for Randolph’s 2016 team, Menon helped prepare first-time delegates to write speeches, papers, and resolutions for the conference. He also offered guidance and moral support during the conference itself to his fellow delegates in other committees.
“I think the program develops a particular aspect of leadership that involves empowering the other delegates,” Menon said. “They’re prepared and capable, and we just try to ensure that any unforeseen obstacle does not trip them up. We ‘delegate’ rather than command, which is an important leadership trait.”
A multi-year participant, Menon added that the experience has enhanced his own confidence, critical thinking, and communication skills.
“It’s hands down the best co-curricular experience in Randolph College,” he said. “It develops leadership, negotiation, communication, and writing skills, while at the same time expanding our knowledge of the world in general and international institutions in particular. We’re doing all this in New York City, which makes it an unparalleled opportunity. There are not a lot of other clubs that combine such a number of qualities in such an amazing location.”
For Philemon Afrifa-Boakye ’19, this year’s NMUN conference was his first as a College student. He has been fascinated by the work of the UN since middle school and attended the conference twice in high school.
“For me it was a great learning experience,” he said. “I also saw it as a build up to my career aspirations as a lawyer or politician, but this particular conference reignited my love for NMUN. The diversity and level of professionalism make me better every year. I loved it and plan to do it for the reminder of my stay at Randolph.”
Also during their stay in New York, Randolph delegates attended an R-MWC Alumnae and Randolph College Alumni Association reception at the home of Melissa Lewis Bernstein ’69 and her husband, David. Political science professor Jennifer Dugan has been the faculty advisor for the program and has accompanied students to the NMUN conference each year since 2001.
“The conference provides our students an opportunity for rich, intercultural engagement and is a great way for them to use problem-solving skills to reach common ground on complex world issues,” she said.
The NMUN conference originated in 1923 as a simulation of the League of Nations. The NMUN adopted its present form in 1946 after the creation of the United Nations. The conference is the largest and one of the most prestigious collegiate Model United Nations programs in the world. With more than 4,000 participating students, it is the world’s largest, university-level UN simulation.
Student participation and travel to the Model UN conference is made possible by support from the Sheldon and Chrystine Hicks Endowed Global Studies Fund and a generous gift from Marilyn Hicks Fitzgerald ’68 and Michael P. Fitzgerald.