Model U.N. offers students eye-opening experience

by Peter KaspariStaff Writer

Two weeks ago, for the 22nd consecutive year, a group of Simpson students traveled to St. Louis to take part in the annual Model United Nations conference.

From Wednesday, Feb. 13 until Saturday, Feb. 16, students participated in a real-life simulation of how the United Nations actually functions.

“Each college is responsible for a country, and they try and vote as their country would [to pass an act],” junior Andrew Reid said.

According to Eduardo Magalhaes, professor of political science, it’s difficult to define how well a team did at the event.

“What typically happens is students gain a comfort in public speaking,” Magalhaes said. “Some will come in very quiet, but by the end of the weekend, they are expressing themselves in their groups.”

The procedure for Model U.N. involves each of the committees speaking in shifts.

“I was representing Australia,” Reid said. “We went third, and then voted on the first committee’s resolution.”

This is far from the only Model U.N. in the nation. According to Magalhaes, there are several around the continent.

“There is one in New York, which is actually at the real United Nations,” Magalhaes said. “There is also one in Chicago that takes place in the fall. There’s one in the west and one in the south.”

The most unique Model U.N. that Simpson has been invited to isn’t even in this country.

“There’s also one in Toronto,” Magalhaes said. “I’ve gotten solicitations for it in the past, but it’s very expensive.”

Freshman Emily Davis, who attended because of her major, felt that the experience was very beneficial.

“I thought it went really well,” Davis said. “I enjoyed learning from other people and getting to know more about it.”

Reid, who also attended Model U.N. for the first time, said that while the experience was good, there were some parts he felt were unrealistic.

“Small countries’ representatives were taking over the conversation,” Reid said. “Some people have this as a grade and need to have their name on the resolutions.”

He also felt that the situation seemed to get heated at times.

“In a real diplomatic solution, you have to remain calm, otherwise other countries will feel disrespected,” Reid said.

Despite this, Reid believed the conversation was a good experience for him.

“It’s really hard to teach someone about parliamentary procedures,” he said. “But it was good to have that experience.”

Simpson, according to Magalhaes, has the distinction of being the only school in Iowa that attends the conference every year. This time around, only two of the 16 participants returned from last year’s competition.

“[It’s nice] seeing them getting over their initial fears and getting comfortable and ready to do it again next year,” Magalhaes said.

According to Magalhaes, the Model U.N. conference has been around for about 43 years. In the Midwest Model U.N., which Simpson attended, about 50 different schools participated. Within these, there are about 90 delegations of at least 30 students. In all, Magalhaes believes there are about 400-450 participants annually.

He described his favorite part about the experience is the way students’ eyes are opened to the world.

“I see students understanding a different part of the world,” Magalhaes said.