Surrounded by centuries-old city walls of Xi’an, a cultural capitol of China, students from Brigham Young University participated in their first international Model United Nations conference of the academic year, and their performance did not disappoint as the group earned another “outstanding” award, the highest recognition given.
Students from all majors participate in the multilateral diplomacy simulations, developing oral presentation, research, policy writing and negotiation skills along the way. “We built coalitions more quickly since half of the participants were from China, and they appreciated the chance to interact in their own language,” noted Chris Rains, a teaching assistant and business finance major from Orinda, Calif.
It also didn’t hurt that almost half of BYU’s ten-student team are functional in Mandarin, added Rains.
The rules and format were similar to the New York Model UN conference held each spring, but only 400 university students attended, compared to the 4,000 who converge at UN headquarters each April.
“The committees were smaller which allowed for more in-depth discussion,” observed Marie Kulbeth, a second-year law student and head delegate/teaching assistant, who received a writing award for her position paper. “But we found proportionally more of the strongest programs attending, which made competition to lead more difficult.”
Northwestern Polytechnic University organized the event in conjunction with the National Collegiate Conference Association—the latter being the sponsor of the National Model UN Conference held each year in New York and one that BYU has ranked in the top 1 percent at for the past four years running.
Although the conference was held in English, Cory Leonard, assistant director at the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies and program advisor, hopes that future conferences will incorporate non-English languages. “Negotiation in a second or third language brings a new dimension, and is the future for these types of simulations,” said Leonard.
BYU already sponsors a Spanish-language committee for its high school conference, and hopes to become a leader by leveraging its federally funded and nationally recognized language capacity, evidenced by the College of Humanities’ Center for Language Studies, National Middle East Language Resource Center and Chinese Flagship as well as the Marriott School’s Global Management Center and the Law School’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies.
BYU’s Model UN program is unique from many other top programs in that students from all majors for only one year—in an experiene that culminates in the New York conference. “More than 100 students each year have the chance to explore global issues and multilateral diplomacy,” explained Drew Ludlow, program instructor and director of the BYUMUN High School Conference.
Interested students may register for IAS 351 during fall semester and then apply for the winter delegation’s limited space.
For more information, contact BYU Model UN at (801) 422-6921, firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by 120 Herald R. Clark Building.
Writer: Lee Simons