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Intellect

BYU students continue to shine at recent Model United Nations in New York City

Potential delegates invited to information session April 26

The peaceful rise of China in world affairs had new meaning for Brigham Young University students playing the role of China's diplomats when they received the highest award possible, as well as their first-ever award for policy writing, at the recent Model United Nations in New York City.

BYU's David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies has trained and supported hundreds of students who have attended this conference, held this year in tandem at the United Nations and the Marriott Marquis hotel.

"Since the first day of classes in September 2005, students have studied the processes of multilateral diplomacy, applied negotiation theories in three-hour case exercises and honed public-speaking skills in front of their peers," said Cory Leonard, program advisor and assistant director at the Kennedy Center.

But in New York City these same students had what head delegate, Anne Sidwell, an international relations major from Modesto, California, calls "the most demanding final exam" they will likely take this semester. Working in formal sessions from 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., as well as during lunch and dinner breaks, students learned that brokering agreements among hundreds of parties requires patience, listening skills and a shrewd eye toward an overall strategy.

Students interested in participating in next year's Model UN course can find out more at "Becoming BYU's Next Top Diplomat" information session, Wednesday, April 26, in 238 HRCB at 5 p.m. New York-style pizza will be served and delegates from BYU's 2005 team will answer questions, show policy papers and display photos from their experience.

To reach the top in this year's competition, BYU's 43-person delegation engaged with more than 3,500 students, 50 percent of whom came from universities outside of the United States. This year's National Model UN conference boasted repeating delegations from Korea, Japan, and China, as well as two new delegations from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Delegates must convince others on their respective committees—which range in size from 70 to 400—to agree, or "forge consensus" in a process that mirrors international negotiations.

"One appeal to this simulation is that many future diplomats, businesspersons, educators and leaders cut their teeth in a model UN committee room," said Leonard.

In 2005, students achieved two "outstanding" awards, which placed them among the top one percent of all students participating.

"We didn't think it was a fair expectation to perform as well as in 2004, since few other schools have achieved not one, but two "outstanding" awards," notes William O. Perry, IV, an advisor to BYU's program since 1997, a Kennedy Center and J. Reuben Clark School of Law graduate and attorney. "But students still had the goal to be the best, and with an entirely different group they pulled it off."

The "Outstanding Position Paper" award recognized 20 out of more than 300 schools whose concise, summary of their country's policies were "in character," clear, well researched and demonstrated a high degree of policy knowledge. Sarah Kemeny, an international relations major from BYU and a teaching assistant responsible for grading and editing the papers, spent "considerable time" in three different grading sessions helping the students to distill their research into a paper where "every sentence and paragraph is filled with substantial understanding."

For more information, or to contact advisors, teaching assistants or delegates in BYU Model United Nations, call (801) 422-6921, e-mail mun@byu.edu or visit 238 HRCB in the Kennedy Center.

modelun-1.jpg
Photo by Mark A. Philbrick/BYU Photo

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