UCSB’s Model United Nations team was awarded “Distinguished Delegation” during the 2013 National Model United Nations competition held last week in New York City from March 24th to the 28th.
One of the largest MUN conferences in the world, NMUN congregates a diverse pool of about 5,000 students at the UN Headquarters in New York — about 45 percent of whom are international students enrolled in U.S. schools. At the conference, attendees are assigned to one of seven issue-specific committees, ranging from food security and international security to development issues and North Korea. Students then diplomatically represent and advocate policies in accordance with the interests of their respective country.
Along with ranking in the top 10 percent overall, many individual MUN members won awards such as the Position Paper Award, which is awarded for showing the best preparation for the Conference, and the Best Delegates in the Committee Award, selected by popular vote among committee delegates. MUN club advisor and political science Ph.D. candidate Galen Stocking said while the event is slightly competitive, it is more important for students to work together and communicate in order for each committee to make progress.
“It is a competition [but] I try not to emphasize the competition aspect of it,” Stocking said. “I like to watch the students have a good experience and use this opportunity to develop the skills you need to be successful.”
According to Stocking, MUN’s competitive success was the result of many hours of practice, which naturally enriches student experience with public speaking, critical thinking, research and writing skills.
“It bridges all of the kind of skills you’re supposed to develop as a college student,” Stocking said. “I hope it helps the students that are involved be better students and be better on the job market after they finish.”
MUN head delegate and fourth-year global studies major James Cobb said MUN’s hard work and preparation is accordingly matched with fun and enjoyment.
“We work hard, and we play hard,” Cobb said. “It’s not just about going to a city and enjoying the travel opportunity. I mean, that is one part of it, but we spend a lot of time researching other policies and formulating articulate arguments.”
Cobb, who regards MUN as his “second family,” also said the club’s success can be attributed to the club’s teamwork and collaboration.
“It’s going to be really hard to leave them behind, because you do really become very close to other people in your delegation [with] all the time and effort that you pour into the project before and during the conference,” Cobb said. “I definitely noticed that we grew as a team together…this time we were all so much more involved in our committees and then spent the late hours of the night together as a delegation hanging out and getting to know each other.”
Comprised of around 50 students, MUN members on average spend four to eight hours a week practicing and around 20 to 30 hours a week nearing competition, Stocking said.
“They were phenomenal and very happy to see what they did [during NMUN],” Stocking said. “They spent winter quarter meeting multiple times a week, on top of all their other classes and other activities, trying to be at the level they need to be.”