MORGANTOWN, W.Va. It takes a firm hand in diplomacy, an understanding of different cultures and an eye for compromise to deftly navigate the foreign policy landscape. The members of the Model UN team at West Virginia University continue to show they’ve got those skills in spades.
Earlier this month the WVU Model UN Club traveled to New York City for the 2014 National Model United Nations Conference, where the team’s representation of Russian and Slovakian delegations earned the team two “Outstanding Delegation” Awards, five “position paper” awards and three “best delegate in committee” awards.While two delegations from the same university winning the “Outstanding Delegation” Award—-the highest honor—- is a rare feat, it speaks to the caliber of the club and exemplifies its status as a rising star.
“We’re known internationally as one of the best delegations in the world now. Our name is being mentioned with some of the best model U.N teams in the country,” said Clarissa Estep, a multidisciplinary studies professor and the program’s coordinator.
The conference teaches students about the workings of international organizations, specifically the United Nations, and what it is like to represent a country and defend its foreign policy.
“Part of (the conference) is hosted at the U.N., which gives a real experience for the students. They sit in the seat where Russia sits and push the button the Russian representative pushes. It’s really reflective of the actual experience,” she said.
This spring’s experience got an extra dose of “real” when the ambassador to Slovakia presented the program with its award.
“He was so impressed with the students’ work that he asked to present the award,” Estep said. “In many years as the Model UN advisor, I have never witnessed this happen during a closing ceremony.”
Brittany Shallah, a senior at WVU, attended the conference for her fourth consecutive year and spoke about how Model UN has impacted her.
“I gained a lot of knowledge when it comes to international relations,” she said.
“It’s a great way for countries to come together and cooperate. You do so much work for the conference. You’re learning a nation’s foreign policy, and that’s so hard to do. You’re coming out of your comfort zone of the way you learn things in the United States.”
The New York Conference is one of four conferences on the WVU Model U.N. Club’s schedule this year, and perhaps the most important.
“Of all of the conferences that you can attend (New York) is one of the largest. Over two weeks there (were) over 6,000 students from both inside and outside the US,” Estep said.
At last year’s conference in New York City, the club saw similar success, winning an “Outstanding Delegation” Award, a “best delegate in committee” award, and two “outstanding position paper” awards.
The program sent three WVU teams to the 2014 National Model UN Conference in Washington, D.C., and two of the three teams were among the six in the entire competition to win “Outstanding Delegation” awards.
The success of this program has not gone unnoticed. The team will be meeting with WVU president Gordon Gee later this week to receive congratulations and celebrate the awards.
For more information, contact Clarissa Estep, at 304-293-4722 or firstname.lastname@example.org