UC Model UN Succeeds at HNMUN Conference


Photo submitted by Maria M. Silva

Maria M. Silva, Staff Writer

The 64th session of the Harvard National Model United Nations (HNMUN) was held in Boston last week from Feb. 15-18. A total of 11 Utica College students attended the event alongside club advisor and professor J. T. Kwon.

The UC delegation was assigned to represent Singapore in this year’s conference as senior Hyesung Jang was granted the Diplomatic Commendation Award as a result of his outstanding performance representing the country on the Legal Committee. This was the first award received by UC in its first three years of participating in HNMUN.

Participants were put into different committees focused on different issues that affecting the international community.

UC’s students participated in the Disarmament and International Security Committee, the Legal Committee, the World Health Organization, the Economic and Financial Committee, the Commission on the Status of Women, the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee, the Special Political and Decolonization Committee, the Historical General Assembly, 1956 and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

During the four days of the conference, the students attended several morning and evening sessions along with more than 60 other delegations coming from colleges worldwide.

The students have been preparing for the event since last September during weekly meetings in which they have been covering the main process of participation in the annual spring semester conference.

“The HNMUN is a replica of the real United Nations, which is the place where countries get together to talk about their different issues,” Kwon said. “The HNMUN is one of the biggest of its kind. The goal is to let them know about important global issues and to talk about them with other delegates from around the world.”

Professor Kwon highlighted the team’s increasing preparation over the last three years, in spite of the big challenges that such a popular event entails.

Much of the preparation has been focused on improving the students’ abilities to write speeches, how to persuade when public speaking and how to present oneself in a respectable way. Professor Kwon adds that the students have also learned the basics of research, debating, engaging in negotiation and lobbying.

As president of the Model UN team, senior Hyesung Jang has been in charge of the training process in the last two HNMUN teams for UC. The team has been meeting regularly on Wednesdays during the fall semester and in the first months of the spring semester.

“During the conference, the biggest challenge has been trying to connect with people who I have nothing in common with, but as long as there is humanity between people from a different place we can seek friendship of some kind,” Jang, a government and politics major, said.

Despite having other academic responsibilities throughout the year, the school’s participants in HNMUN 2018 have managed to keep up with the amount of prior work that the conference requires. Jang explained that what motivated him to preside over the club and attend the conference was to understand the nature of politics and having a respectful view.

“I want to be more humble in the art of politics,” Jang said. “There is a lot of backstabbing and betrayal because of ego. If we could do away with that, things would be much better for everyone around the world.”

Jang said that preparation is the most important factor to bear in mind regarding the Model UN conference.

“It doesn’t matter whether or not we meet every day or every week,” he said. “We can always do more preparation and research.”

Junior Hermina Garic was one of the students that had the possibility of attending the HNMUN this year for the first time. During the past few months of preparation, she has been studying the materials that were provided by the HNMUN organization.

Once at the event, Garic explained that the sessions were challenging.

“I had to get up and speak on the spot right away, and I also had to come up with original ideas to problems that were presented to the delegates, who actually were from all around the world,” Garic said. “I have never had an experience like that before.”

Student experiences from the conference have provided several different takeaways from the group.

Garic, for example, explained that she was going to take one of the ideas that she discussed about in the event and try to implement it at UC.  

As a result of attending the HNMUN, Garic realized that the speed of change is very slow, which she did not like. It is because of such a downside that Garic is determined to make an impact in this regard.

“Be open to the experience and let it help you grow and intellectually challenge and push you to develop ideas,” she said.

Freshman Peter Gaughan had experience in the basics of debate and Model UN conferences prior to attending his first HNMUN. Although feeling ready for the conference, Gaughan still had to do hours of research on Singapore, immersing himself in Singaporean news, history, culture and politics.

“It was not only intense but also international, which added a new dynamic to the experience that certainly enhanced the conference but made communication more of a challenge,” Gaughan said.

Gaughan emphasized how having the opportunity to work alongside participants from all over the world helped him gain experience from a global perspective.

“It’s a better appreciation for global cooperation and the necessity for multilateral policy from the developed world for the developing world,” he said.

The freshman strongly recommends joining the club and attending the conference.

“It’ll be an experience that you’ll never be able to replicate,” he said. “I have friends in half a dozen countries from each continent now because of the MUN.”