By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–The world keeps dishing up conflict, and the Model United Nations keeps finding paths to consensus.
This year’s Model UN at IU Southeast, Nov. 14-16, welcomed students from IU Southeast, University of Evansville, University of Indianapolis, and the University of Louisville.
IU Southeast students Ryan Houchin and Dylan Grant represented Kuwait; Kristen Fallon, Chandler Morris, Destiney Phillips and Melissa Scianimanico represented the Netherlands; Jonathan Cropper and Kuan-Chich Wu represented the U.S.; Trevor Allen and Kat Faulkner represented Russia.
The agenda was a challenging and complex, as participants grappled with issues of topical relevance with long histories:
- Persecution of the Rohingya people in Myanmar
- Israel and Gaza
- The civil war in Yemen
- The crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
- The crisis in Venezuela
As usual, the proceedings were interrupted and conversations reshuffled by breaking news—this year it was the report of a U.S.-backed coup in Venezuela.
The goal, as always, was consensus, in the form of resolutions expressing common purpose, reached through negotiation and nuance. The challenge took the form of real-life conflicts of national interest that the students brought to life based on their research.
Jonathan Cropper, a senior from Georgetown, Ind. majoring in political science, was participating in his second Model UN, representing the U.S. It was a different experience after standing for Japan last year.
“This year all five issues were important to us, so that meant more research, more time, examining not only what we’re doing but what other nations are trying to do to help in certain situations,” Cropper said.
Kuan-Chich Wu, a senior from Taiwan majoring in business, teamed with Cropper.
Wu, who also interns on Horizon Radio’s International Power Hour and has started learning Arabic as a first step toward working in the Middle East, appreciates the universal relevance of the Model UN.
“A lot of the negotiation skills used in the model UN are applicable in the business world,” Wu said. “I think that business needs to be more aware of the community dynamic in the world.”
Chandler Morris and Melissa Scianimanico, both freshmen, were recognized as best delegation.
Scianimanico, a philosophy and political science major from Louisville, Ky., reaped unexpected rewards from participating in the process.
“I’ve liked learning in-depth about issues, acquiring knowledge about the world I wouldn’t have had otherwise,” Scianimanico said. “It’s interesting to balance diplomacy and humanitarianism, to weigh your values and morals as a nation—it’s less tangible but super-relevant.”
For Dr. Cliff Staten, professor of political science and one of five faculty advisors for the event, the Model UN process helps students grow intellectually and develop important research, writing, teamwork and oral communication skills.
“Students also learn the skill of parliamentary procedure and debate which will benefit them in any type of leadership position in the future,” Staten said. “In addition, they begin to develop a knowledge base and understanding of critical issues that the world faces and how those issues affect many different countries.”
A week after the college event had concluded, some 120 secondary school students arrived on campus to take part in the annual high school Model UN. The IU Southeast students, fresh off their own Model UN, chaired six Security Councils addressing the same topics they had wrestled with.
Cropper, representing the U.S., is intrigued and inspired by the whole experience.
“Trying to help differing backgrounds, groups and ideas come together as one—it’s a very interesting concept to me,” Cropper said. “There’s a lot that could be done if everybody were to work together.”
The following schools participated in the high school Model United Nations at IU Southeast: New Albany H.S., Shawe Memorial H.S., Jeffersonville H.S., South Central Junior-Senior H.S., Crawfordsville Senior H.S., and Silver Creek H.S.
Homepage photo: Kat Faulkner articulates the Russian point of view.