Pace University New York City was recognized with four awards last weekend for their poised and adroit representation of global policymaking on peace, security, development and human rights in the National Model United Nations conference in Washington DC (NMUN DC).
“Your participation in this Model UN comes at a time when the international community increasingly recognizes the power of young people to change our world,” wrote UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a letter to students participating in the conference.
Pace was in third place in terms of awards received, out of almost 100 participating universities and student groups (Irvine Valley College, in first place, received nine awards; West Virginia University, in second place, received six. Hunter College, Manhattan College, St. Petersburg College, Texas A&M and University of Colorado were tied for fourth place with three awards).
“I have met countless people over the course of my career whose dedication to public service could be traced back to when, at your age, they attended a conference where students debated international issues under the blue UN flag,” wrote Mr. Ban Ki-moon. “I count on you to use the negotiating skills you learn in Model UN to help navigate the real-world problems we face.”
The conference, themed “Confronting Issues at the Forefront of International Relations”, brought together more than 650 students, from around the United States and the world, to play the role of diplomats engaged in deliberations on crucial international issues in committees and councils of the UN. Students are expected to engage in formal debate, caucus in informal negotiations and write and vote on resolutions.
“Our experience at NMUN DC was extremely positive and we were very fortunate to have received awards for every country delegation we represented at the conference,” said head delegate Elena Marmo ‘15.
“However, to the Pace University Model UN team, education remains the most important aspect of any Model UN,” continued Elena. “While recognition for the hard work and efforts of our students is very much appreciated, we deem a conference successful when all students area able to participate in a meaningful way and learn a great deal about international structures, global policymaking, and themselves.”
In the Pace New York Model UN program, students are encouraged to focus not on awards, but on the learning through an upper division class about the issues faced by the countries they represent in the simulation.
“Representing Argentina proved to be a challenge for me this semester as this country has a complex position when it comes to addressing environmental issues,” said head delegate Jacqueline Kelleher ’15 who worked along with Klaudia Remiszewska ’15 in a simulation of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
“During conference, my partner and I advocated ideas that weren’t popular amongst other delegates,” said Jacqueline. “Our perseverance paid off in the end though, when we were able to compromise and pass a resolution that represented our position.”
Jacqueline and Klaudia were among the 10 Pace students representing Argentina who were honored with a “Distinguished Delegation” award for their work: Paige Pirtle ’14 and Annamaria Watson ’17 (in a simulation of the Security Council), Lindita Capric ’17 and Christopher Azara ’14 (General Assembly First Committee), Tarik Meertins ’14 and Jason Gonzalez ’14 (General Assembly Second Committee), and Hannah Liot ’15 and Ashley Espinosa ’15 (International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).
“Half of what you would call diplomacy is simply a willingness to listen,” said Christopher Azara. “Just because you’re opposites on a policy level, doesn’t mean you have to be opposites on a personal level.”
“Everyone should do Model UN because it enables you to see through the eyes of another, and, in the process learn about yourself,” agreed Annamaria Watson. “I met so many people at conference who wanted to work in politics in the future. I kept thinking that one day I might be sitting in a room with these same people, writing actual policy.”
Pace students spent the semester preparing for their roles, learning about the UN, studying their country assignments and honing their public speaking and negotiation skills. Much of their grade depends on their preparation, in teams of two, of detailed two-page policy brief — called a position paper — outlining their country’s position on their committee’s agenda.
“The class was an intense but productive and exciting learning experience and environment,” said Kyla Korvne ’15 who, along with her delegation partner Diomary Millares ’15, represented Kenya in UNEP. “The conference was a different but equally as exciting learning and bonding experience. I learned a lot about diplomacy and myself and I am excited to use that knowledge going forward.”
Kyla and Diomary were among six Pace students – including Leslie Burak-Dryjanski ’14 and Diana Mendez ’15 (ICPD) and Dave Gallacher ’14 and Caitlin Richardson ’14 (General Assembly First Committee) who represented Kenya at the conference, receiving an “Honorable Mention” for their work. Dave and Caitlin received a special individual delegation award for their work in committee.
“I found that participating in NMUN DC imparted to me new understanding about power, privileges and diplomatic collaboration,” said Leslie Burak-Dryjanski. “The Model UN class helped me see the vital role that collaboration has for achieving negotiations, agreements and progress around the world.”
“NMUN was an amazing experience,” said head delegate Kelsey McGhee ’14 who represented Denmark in a simulation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). “I really enjoyed the committee because the right to food is so important; food is a basic human need and no one should ever have to be without it.”
Kelsey was among seven Pace students in the Denmark delegation – Cayman Mitchell ’14 and Gabriela Johnson ’15 (First Committee), Shade Quailey ’16 and Jessie Meredith ‘17 (Second Committee) and Anna Paternostro ’14 and Caitlin Boley ’16 (ICPD) – which was recognized by the conference with an “Honorable Mention” award.
“Model UN has been an exciting yet challenging experience,” said Anna Paternostro. “The diversity among delegates at the NMUN DC contributed to a great learning experience.”
The NMUN DC participants were also given a guided tour of the US Capitol Visitors Center, conversed with relevant graduate school recruiters at an Opportunities Fair and listened to expert guest speakers. In the opening ceremony, Ambassador Robert P. Jackson of the US State Department told students that Model UN was an “amazing opportunity” to learn about the “flexibility and compromise” as well as experience “building relationships” that “multilateral diplomacy requires.”
“Model UN is a rewarding experience that expands your knowledge of global politics, diplomacy and the workings of the United Nations, but the best part of the experience is surprising yourself and discovering a new passion,” said Shade Quailey. “It has given me skills that are applicable to the real world and has encouraged me to consider a career in international work.”
In the closing ceremony, Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, spoke of his experience in diplomacy at the United Nations, telling participants that “had it not been for the experience of doing Model UN I would have been much more clueless.” Model UN simulations, he said, enable on to understand “the essence of diplomacy…you have to give something to get something.” The goal of diplomacy, said Parsi, is “to have everyone walk away feeling they have won.”
“NMUN adds a dimension to the conference by offering dynamic speakers who work in government and civil society,” said head delegate Katie James ’14. “Mr. Parsi gave all delegates a different perspective of the United States role in foreign policy. His impressive career path gave delegates insight and hope that what we learn from participating in Model UN can make a difference in the real world.”
Located only two express subway stops from the iconic United Nations complex on the East River, Pace University’s New York City Model UN program has a 60-year history of excellence in regional, national and international conferences. Model UN at Pace is uniquely integrated into the political science curriculum within the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences and aims to encourage students to develop wisdom, knowledge, skills and community for global citizenship and vocation.