Pace NYC Students Reflect on the Interactions between “Real World” and Simulation
Pace University New York City students were recognized with seven awards at the National Model United Nations conference (NMUN NY), 22-26 March, which drew some 2,500 undergraduates from around the world to New York.
Addressing the closing ceremony of the conference, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told students he was “energized by this dynamic gathering” and its “serious discussions” on “cutting-edge issues on the international agenda.”
“You are not just leaders of the future – you can start to lead right now,” he told them, “now is the time for your generation to build human solidarity around the world.”
Pace NYC came in joint ninth place in terms of awards received, out of more than 170 schools and institutions. Five sets of Pace NYC students won position paper awards for their excellence in writing policy papers and Pace NYC students representing Albania (Omar Algergawi ‘18, Nicholas Casanova ‘17, Jason Davis ‘16, Syuyumbika Galimova ‘18, Remy Gallo ‘17, Latrelle Gray Jones-Booker ‘18, Laurel McGoff ‘19, Margarita Moffett ‘18, Patrice Purnell ‘17, and Thomas Winquist ‘15) and Vanuatu (Yasmine Coccoli ‘18, Inemesit Essien ‘16, Izabella Kaminski ‘17, Abdul Khail ’16 and Klaudia Remiszewska ‘15, Sherin Shetty ’17 and Amandine Tristani ‘17) both received “Honorable Mention” awards for their whole delegations.
At the alternate NMUN NY conference the following week, Pace University Pleasantville students received a “Distinguished Delegation” and six Position Paper awards for their representation of Canada.
Model UN is a simulation of diplomacy, negotiation and decisionmaking by international organizations. Students play the role of diplomats from Member States of the UN and discuss issues at the top of the global policymaking agenda. NMUN NY is one of the biggest undergraduate Model UN conferences in the world.
Pace NYC students are taught to think critically about their involvement in Model UN and not to see it simply as a “game” or “competition.” The issues being discussed are some of the most sobering global concerns and Pace students seek to represent their countries faithfully and considerately.
For example, Pace students had to think carefully about how to respectfully represent Vanuatu only days after it was hit by the devastating Cyclone Pam. As part of their preparation, they had been reading about the alarming potential impacts of climate change on the South Pacific island states like Vanuatu and so were sensitive to the challenges it faced.
“Model UN gave me valuable insights into what a career in diplomacy is really about,” said Amandine Tristani, who was, along with her delegation partner Sherin Shetty, was recognized with an Outstanding Position Paper award for their representation of Vanuatu in a simulation of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
“I got to meet people from all over the world and get new interesting perspectives,” said Amandine. “But Model UN also enabled me to understand that being introvert is not necessarily a defect in politics. We have valuable skills that are complementary to others and can bring new perspectives to negotiating and writing resolutions.”
Vanuatu’s relationship to its environment was also under consideration in the simulation of the UN General Assembly Second Committee, which deals with economic and financial issues. Izabella Kaminski and Klaudia Remiszewska were recognized with an Outstanding Position Paper award for their explication of Vanuatu’s call for a “Green Economy”, gender equality and consideration of climate change-induced migration.
“Participating in Model UN was one of the most original and immersive educational experiences that I have ever had,” said Jason Davis, who with his delegation partner Nicholas Casanova, represented Albania in the General Assembly Second Committee simulation. “While the preparation process was challenging and required us to carefully analyze our respective nations’ political positons, it allowed us to place ourselves in the shoes of people other than ourselves.”
To read more of Jason’s reflections on NMUN NY, click here to read his blog post.
While real world events reshaped students’ engagement with the simulation, Pace NYC students were also surprised to find that actual policymakers were paying attention to their work as they discussed the dangers of autonomous robotics weapons or “killer robots”.
The simulation of the UN General Assembly First Committee, which deals with disarmament and international security, passed resolutions calling on states to ban such weapons that would select and engage targets without “meaningful human control.”
States meeting at the actual UN this April in Geneva are considering these very issues and so the NMUN NY resolutions were publicized by non-governmental organizations seeking a strong humanitarian ban on killer robots.
“Attending NMUN NY helped solidify my career goals of working within the international community,” said Latrelle Gray Jones-Booker, who along with her delegation partner Syuyumbika Galimova, received an Outstanding Position Paper award for their careful analysis of Albania’s foreign policy on autonomous weapons systems, biological weapons and confidence-building mechanisms.
“This opportunity gave me the realization that international bodies such as the UN can make profound differences, and I want to be a part of making those differences,” said Latrelle.
Also examining the potential negative implications of digital technology were Yasmine Coccoli and Inemesit Essien, who represented Vanuatu in a simulation of the UN General Assembly Third Committee, which deals with social, cultural and humanitarian issues. They received an Outstanding Position Paper award for their analysis of the right to digital privacy, the rights of indigenous peoples and eliminating discrimination and xenophobia.
“The world is becoming increasingly diverse and the policies that are implemented affect such a wide array of people,” said Inemesit. “NMUN NY has taught me to be calculated in my actions and with my words. It is a wonderful conference where I have learned to be diplomatic, expand my network, and made lifelong friends.”
Two Pace NYC students, Oleh Puryshev ‘16 and Annie Stishov ‘18, were also assigned to represent Rwanda in a simulation of the UN Security Council and were awarded an Outstanding Position Paper award. They were challenged to respond to interruptions that were intended to make the simulation feel more realistic.
“The Security Council was the only committee that had to deal with crises in real time,” said Oleh. “This was a unique experience, the delegates themselves were better prepared and took it more seriously.”
To read more about Oleh’s experience representing Rwanda in the Security Council simulation, click here to read his blog post.
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 65-year history of excellence in regional, national and international conferences. Model UN at Pace is a class, 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 vocation and citizenship.
“The Model UN program at Pace has long been a highly effective program,” said Dr. Nira Herrmann, Dean of Dyson College. “The skills and knowledge students gain from the program can influence the rest if their lives. Through my interactions with alumni over the years, I have been impressed by the enormous positive influence this program has had on shaping their lives and even their choice of profession.”