By Douglas Hardman
Over the course of 10 days, six Model UN delegates and their adviser embarked on a global escapade to Rome to attend the National Model United Nations – Europe Conference. From Nov. 20 to Nov. 30, the delegates debated, discussed, and proposed conflict resolutions while representing Australia. Not only did the team traverse the globe, they also returned home with the Distinguished Delegate award, the second highest award granted by the conference.
Aubrey Westfall, assistant professor of political science and Model UN Adviser, chaperoned the delegates on the trip and was very pleased for the students she accompanied.
“I love watching the students grow during the experience” Westfall said. “Each conference brings its own challenges, and the students must be innovative and passionate to find solutions. It’s a lot of fun to witness so much collaboration and creativity. Model UN students give me hope for the future.”
It was the delegates’ job to grasp the understanding and working of Australian politics. “We were responsible for in-depth research regarding Australia in all facets. Socially, geographically, and politically. We acted as if we were delegates from Australia and had to make decisions from that mindset,” said senior Aoife Branco, the delegate of the General Assembly committee. The purpose of giving students these types of research tasks is to get the younger generation engaged with politics and show them how innovative and productive politics can be.
Students from numerous organizations attended the international conference, representing a vast array of cultures and societies. Sophomore Alexander McComb, a delegate of the Security Council, explained some of the topics that were covered at the conference.
“On the Security Council we discussed such topics as how to utilize women to promote peace and security and how to ensure the safety of journalists in armed conflicts and to end impunity for those who perpetrate violence against journalists. We had to deal with an extra ‘crisis’ that was presented to us mid-session about the crisis in Ukraine, which brought to light ‘new hostilities and violence in the region.”
Senior Jessica Mackey led the students as head delegate of the Security Council, and she described the unique challenges that accompanied this role.
“Being head delegate comes with many responsibilities and expectations, most of which begin way before the conference actually begins,” Mackey said. “The head delegate assists any participants in the conference in preparation for the conference through research avenues and the drafting of position papers, a paper that documents our assigned countries proposed policies to discuss and solve the issues that are debated at the conference.”
But even with all the extra challenges, Mackey enjoyed her time as head delegate and reflected on this special experience.
“Just walking around Rome on the cobblestone streets, listening to the bustling streets, and admiring the ever present history, culture, and religion present on almost every building in the city. The views are breathtakingly beautiful from every angle you look and as cliché as it may sound, ‘pictures do not do the city any justice.’ Rome truly is a magical place and I’m privileged enough to be able to have witnessed it firsthand.”
“It’s validation for all of our hard work, dedication, and sacrifices as worthwhile. The fact that we are able to win awards at these international conferences, with participants from all around the globe, proves that our small college is one of the world’s best, and should be respected as such,” said Mackey regarding her team’s significant feat.
Amidst the conference and politics, the delegates were able to roam the beautiful city of Rome, going on guided tours to sights such as the Coliseum and Pompeii.
“The staff had arranged a lot of different tours so that we were able to make the most of our time there. Also, everyone was so excited to be in such a beautiful city that bonds were made pretty instantly. I’ve met so many amazing people on this trip, and I hope I can see them in future conferences,” said junior Daniella St. George.
Model UN not only provides student with the chance for leadership experiences, but also opens the door to incredible opportunities.
“Not only did it reaffirm my choice of major and interests, but it awakened a passion for travel that I had yet to uncover,” McComb said. “The continued confidence won through developing powerful communication skills and the exposure to powerful history and culture is why these experiences are so powerful and why it would be wonderful if Wesleyan could provide greater support allowing for greater accessibility to students.”
Being distinguished delegates in an international conference not only gets our school recognized, but displays the incredible talent of the Model UN students.
VWC’s Model UN team will be traveling to New York in March 2015 to attend the Spring Conference.
By Douglas Hardman