Seven UCSB Model United Nations club members recently returned from Argentina after competing against 300 other students worldwide in the Harvard National Model UN-Latin America Conference.

The convention took place in Buenos Aires from January 12-15 and included teams from colleges in Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Canada and France along with several from the United States. The UCSB delegation earned an award for best small delegation and three others for individual delegates.

Fourth-year political science major Sundiata Sidibe, who won the Best Delegate Award given to the member exhibiting the best overall performance in each committee, said the conference provided a gratifying experience.

“It was probably one of the most emotional moments of my life,” Sidibe said. “I mean, to go halfway across the world to compete with people from all over the world and to come out on top — I didn’t anticipate it. It was the greatest honor I ever received.”

Sidibe credited fourth-year political science major Rebecca Keate, another UCSB Model UN member, for fostering her involvement in the club.

Keate, who represented Bosnia and Herzegovina in the conference, said the experience culminated months of research and preparation.

“Like all UN events, I learned a lot on not only the topics, but also getting to hear the perspective from other countries is pretty invaluable and an incomparable experience,” Keate said. “[Winning Best Small Delegation] felt amazing. We have worked so hard to get the funds to go to this, we spent hours even between breaks preparing, it felt great to be recognized for all the hard work, it felt pretty good.”

Additionally, fourth-year political science and geography major Alex Hammer-Barulich and fourth-year political science major Justin Galle won Outstanding Delegate awards.

Hammer-Barulich said Model UN offers an engaging environment to learn about diplomatic relationships and career possibilities in the international relations field.

“While we were in Buenos Aires we also attended a briefing at the U.S. Embassy where we learned about the United States-Argentina diplomatic relationship and careers in the Foreign Service,” Hammer-Barulich said.

Hammer-Berulich said the program provides memorable experiences for participants.

“I have been doing Model UN for three years now … any person with a passion for debate or discussing international affairs will find a committee that interests them at a Model United Nations conference,” Hammer-Barulich said. “We are an organization that stimulates debate in the style and format of the United Nations.”