March 06, 2007
"? Members of a coalition break away from the government and will most likely end up with a vote of no confidence in the government," Knox College student Maurice Harris '08 reports in his student blog. Intelligence about a thwarted attack by terrorists leads to Harris' appointment as Minister of Intelligence?and all of this takes place soon after lunch.
College students, acting as United Nations delegates at a Model U. N. conference in Montreal, resolve conflicts and tackle issues from senior's rights in Israel to nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. Granted, there is far less pressure when decisions go no further than the plaza ballroom of a five-star hotel. But, how does a group of 2,000 college students from colleges and universities around the world do what government appointed delegates are still trying to accomplish?
There is no 'seek and destroy your opponent' mentality here. These student delegates compromise more than the 'real' countries would compromise. "Its intensive research," Knox first year student Melati Nungsari says. "It's about convincing the delegates [students] from other countries that what you want is also good for their country."
"It was a great experience because everyone put in a lot of research before the event and because everyone knew without a doubt that they had given it their best," Marc Dreyfuss, also a first year student, says about the Montreal trip.
The Model U.N. club is a long-held tradition at Knox. Every student in the club is a dedicated member willing to give up free time to prepare for conferences. Each year the club sends delegations to conferences around the country.
The organization allows students to simulate committees of the United Nations by taking on the roles of delegates from assigned countries and working with other countries to create resolutions. Students must realistically portray their country's stance on current topics as the delegates debate actual issues discussed by the United Nations.
Harris and his classmates from Knox College had a lot on their agendas. "It is exciting. The committee I am on [Israeli Knesset] has to write a working paper on how to deal with Iran?" Harris reports in his blog.
"Depending on the issues at the table and the interests of the country, some delegates don't interact much. They don't necessarily want to be peacekeepers?to interfere. So, they just sit and watch what is unfolding. But everyone always assumes that the United States knows something," Nungsari says.
Peacekeeping efforts run from convincing countries to join in a nonproliferation agreement to writing a resolution dictating the humane treatment of citizens in North Africa.
Dreyfuss, who is interested in public policy, says one of the main reasons he joined Model U.N. was because it is the only non-partisan political club at Knox. "I want to be aware of the world, to know what the programs are in the Middle East and the rest of the world," he says. "We see things a certain way living in the United States."
"It was very interesting to see what other countries think about the United States," economics major, Sukhi Srivatsan '08 adds. "The people I met gave me a new perspective. I think we all learned to negotiate with people, how to be diplomatic."
By putting multiple minds together from different cultures, and holding onto convictions, or maybe just watching until the clock runs out, it appears that Model U.N. has beat the United Nations to the punch and maintained the power of the nations?at least until next year.