Maria M. Silva, Special Assignment Reporter
Nine UC students attended the annual conference of the Harvard National Model United Nations (HNMUN) held in Boston from Feb. 14-17 alongside advisor and government professor J.T Kwon.
The UC team represented Tunisia in their fourth year of attendance to the conference that gathers nearly 5,000 students and faculty members from different colleges and universities from all around the world.
Sophomore Ranjeet Kaur and senior Hyesung Jang earned a diplomatic commendation working hand-in-hand on the International Organization for Migration Committee.
UC students were broken up into several other committees, such as the Economic and Financial Committee, the Commission on the Status of Women, the Legal Committee, the World Health Organization, the Social Humanitarian and Cultural Committee or the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
Sophomore Peter Gaughan became president of the school’s Model U.N. club last year and has been meeting and training with the team since September.
Being a small school, UC has been able to have student representation in the international conference for four years now.
“We definitely stand out, we aren’t big and we do it for fun, not class credit, and we get exposed to a huge range of people and backgrounds,” said Gaughan, a government and politics major.
The training for the HNMUN conference involves discussing the assigned country’s history, current events and international politics, and a range of geopolitical issues, according to Gaughan.
Upon attending the conference, students are required to have extensive knowledge about the country they are going to represent, as well as being able to effectively write and deliver speeches and diplomacy strategies.
The main challenges that students face is “the extreme amount of information they need to be successful in working with students from around the world with different cultures and languages,” Gaughan said.
Ranjeet Kaur attended the HNMUN conference for the first time this year. The training was a new experience to her, as she did not know what the Model U.N. conference was like or how she had to present herself.
“Had I not attended the training sessions that the Model U.N. club on campus held, I would have been a little lost and not much informed about the country we were representing,” said Kaur, a criminal justice major.
Kaur represented Tunisia in the International Organization for Migration Committee alongside co-delegate and senior UC student Hyesung Jang. She stated that the conference was not what she expected.
“The conference was definitely a little difficult for me as I was not experienced at all, but thankfully, I had an amazing co-delegate who taught me the rules of presenting and interacting with people from different countries,” Kaur stated. “We had to keep in mind that we were students representing a nation, and so we had to provide the country’s viewpoint, not ours.”
Kaur said she was “shocked” when she found out she and her co-delegate had won an award.
“I never thought about competing to earn an award, but helping my co-delegate with representing Tunisia was really amazing, and I’m happy that all of this hard work did not go to waste,” Kaur said.
Junior Katie Ortiz was also new to the HNMUN conference this year. Although she had already heard about the club before, she joined it last semester.
“I decided to take the chance because I’m interested in traveling and being able to go to Boston,” she said. “I thought it was an amazing opportunity,” Ortiz said.
Signing up for the Model U.N. club on campus was one way of learning more about the United Nations, she stated.
“The conference itself was very intense, but I met people from all around the globe, and learned more about human rights,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz found that even though she had prepared for the conference beforehand “it was still difficult because we had to come up with speeches in a very short period of time and we only had one minute per speech.”
While being an international conference, there is a significance to attend the HNMUN as a small school, Ortiz said.
“Professor Kwon was the one who brought the Model U.N. to UC, and I give him all the credit,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for students majoring in anything in general because it’s open to anyone who wants to broaden their knowledge and skills.”