Model UN Team Impresses at Harvard Conference

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“Amazing.” That is how the Hope International University (HIU) Model UN team described their participation in the Harvard National Model United Nations in Boston, MA, from February 17 - 20. The team was composed of students Cameron Benton, Heather Hicks, Hughie Hughes, Beatrice Krause, Ryan McKinney (who won Best Dressed out of 1500 male delegates), Tyler Patterson, Cesia Rojas, Jessica Ruf, and Danny Sugimoto. Faculty adviser Roberto Sirvent, Associate Professor of Social Science, and J.J. Peterson, Director of Campus Ministries, also accompanied the group to Boston and were very impressed with the team’s performance. “In a conference full of much larger schools, HIU stood out and received a lot of great praise,” said Peterson. Other schools included Yale, Oxford, USC, and Dartmouth.

A typical day at the Model UN is made up of trying to get your team’s position heard. This is accomplished through moderated and unmoderated caucuses. In the former, students focus on a specific issue within a larger topic. They speak in front of a large committee for 30 seconds to three minutes in an attempt to persuade them to agree with their viewpoint. Afterward, the committee moves back to the larger topic. Unmoderated causes are a completely different arena. Students negotiate, bargain, and compromise with other delegations in order to form a resolution to present to the committee.

Hope Model United Nations Team

“It was awesome to be able to compete on that level with some really great universities and enter into debates on some very difficult questions and issues affecting the world,” said McKinney. Peterson and Sirvent said the HIU team was very good at getting their resolutions pushed through, and once they persuaded 15 countries to change positions and side with them. Ruf said that while other delegations had members that sat quietly throughout the proceedings, everyone on the HIU team was always prepared to speak and engaged in the topics at hand. At times, Hope, which represented the small African country Eritrea, was even approached by delegations representing big countries like China, the United Kingdom and India, and asked to be allies.

“I could not be more proud of them,” Sirvent said. “From my conversations with them, other students, and fellow faculty advisers, it was obvious that they were more prepared than many of their competitors.” Something else the group agreed on was the importance of sending a Model UN team to Boston each year. “I definitely think this is a program that should continue every year,” Krause said. “With the talent at HIU and the wisdom that comes from experience, we could easily have a team full of head delegates next year.”

Sirvent believes sending a group to the Harvard Model UN is a great way to inspire students. To have a team of HIU students competing with some of the best schools in the world at such a prestigious event is a clear indication that the University is producing “top notch thinkers.”

Indeed, according to Hughes, the entire process and journey was illuminating. “Hope definitely needs to have a Model UN team every year,” he said, pointing out that the team noticed an improvement not only in their interpersonal communication, writing, and speaking skills but also their confidence. “At first, going into it, all of us were extremely intimidated because the most notorious universities in the world were there. By the end, however, we realized we could dialogue, debate, and converse with them. All of us, here at Hope, are just like them. We need to start believing that.”

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