Campus & Community

PBSC students shine at National Model United Nations Conference

Seven Palm Beach State College students earned “Distinguished Delegation” recognition for their overall team performance representing the African country of Rwanda at the National Model United Nations Conference in New York.

 Hannah Smith, Marcel Venere, Terry Randolph (advisor), Jessica Lopez, David Cruz, Amanda Viller, David Hernandez, Justin Atkins.
From left are: Hannah Smith, Marcel Venere, Professor Terry Randolph, Jessica Lopez, David Cruz, Amanda Viller, David Hernandez and Justin Atkins.

The NMUN Conference, sponsored by the nonprofit National Collegiate Conference Association, is the largest of its kind in the world. Over 2,500 students from 160 colleges and universities attended March 20-24, and more than half of them traveled from outside of the United States.

The goal of the NMUN is to simulate the actual functions of the United Nations, which brings together diplomats from the approximately 200 countries of the world to pursue peaceful and multilateral solutions to the world’s most pressing issues, such as war, refugees, poverty and hunger, human rights, the environment, transnational crime and others. Each member of PBSC’s delegation served on a separate committee that focused on three challenging international problems assigned to it.

PBSC students said the experience was eye-opening and rewarding. “The National Model UN is a come-to-life textbook of an international relations course. It gave me a whole new perspective on what it means to be a country’s diplomat,’’ said PBSC student David Cruz.

“I found myself networking with people around the globe—people who also have a passion for changing the world for the better,’’ added Amanda Viller. “I strengthened communication skills. I was able to lead and persuade peers in my working group to come together and work towards a common goal. Best of all, it showed me that there is a genuine interest in my generation to make a change in our international affairs, both politically and how the media channels it.”

To prepare for their committee sessions and represent Rwanda’s views as accurately as possible, PBSC delegates conducted in-depth research on the country to learn about its history, society and government. Each delegate had to submit a position paper prior to the conference, and upon arriving in New York, the PBSC delegation visited the actual Rwandan Mission to the United Nations to speak personally with UN diplomats from Rwanda and hear their first-hand views on the issues.

PBSC students and Professor Terry Randolph meet with UN diplomats from Rwanda.

“It made me appreciate the importance of team work, cooperation, and inclusiveness,’’ said PBSC student Justin Atkins. “I felt like I was part of something that was much bigger than myself and my immediate surroundings. It was an absolute honor to represent the country of Rwanda, and I hope I represented their views faithfully and respectfully. This opportunity has given me insight to so much and has developed me into a better person and global citizen in such a short period of time.”

During conference committee sessions, the delegates gave speeches on their proposals for addressing their committee’s assigned global problems. Their goal was to form a working group with as many like-minded delegates as possible in order to produce written resolutions to address those problems, which ultimately had to get passed by a majority vote. The largest General Assembly committees consisted of around 150 members. To be successful in this diverse and highly interactive setting, Model UN delegates must utilize a range of skills that include effective public speaking, writing, negotiation, collaboration and diplomacy.

Political Science Professor Terry Randolph, the team’s faculty advisor, said he couldn’t be more proud of the Distinguished Delegation award earned by the students. “It’s a team award,” Randolph said, noting that each PBSC student served alone on separate committees instead of being paired up like the larger school delegations. “To be recognized on that level among all of the colleges and universities in attendance from around the world required our team members to excel in each of their committees in all aspects of their work. They worked incredibly hard, and they showed that Palm Beach State College could perform on the same level as any other college or university delegation from anywhere.”

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