Simpson Model U.N. tradition rich, fun, terrifying

Simpson Model U.N. tradition rich, fun, terrifying

by Mark PleissNews Editor

The scene was like something out of the McLaughlin Group, had everyone been shot up on post-pubescent hormones.

It could have been “CNN Crossfire,” had the Raging Cajun and Tucker Carlson been passing love notes while fervently discussing international politics.

It could have been an event way too serious for its own good, but instead it worked, and surprisingly, it truly was educational.

Feb. 21-24, Simpson College, joined by various colleges throughout the country, sent 27 students to attend the 47th-annual Model United Nations summit in St. Louis.

Led by Eduardo Magalhaes III, professor of political science, this year’s trip marked the 20th time Simpson has sent delegates to Model U.N., and Magalhaes’ 15th year leading the expedition.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for students to learn how the countries and policies of international politics behave,” Magalhaes said. “It’s a great experience in teamwork, public speaking and argument.”

Students attending Model U.N. had been preparing for the event by studying the policies of the countries they represented throughout the semester. Once in St. Louis, students became delegates, whose mission was to pass resolutions that would best suit their country.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t always easy.

I would now like you to use your imaginations. Picture a large hotel conference room filled with 600 over-achieving coed political science majors of roughly the same age.

Now imagine these students aren’t allowed to leave for hours at a time for three days, while each is trying to pass resolutions for better grades and personal satisfaction.

Now imagine the Hindenburg.

Imagine a place so condensed with helium-rich international politics that the slightest open flame, represented by ego (or $2 long island ice teas refreshingly served later on that evening), could spell an intercollegiate conflict comparable to any war-torn region in the Western Hemisphere.

That, my friends, was Model U.N.

It was a week where I truly learned about the philosophy of Machiavellian ethics. Delegates from nations around the world were ruthless. The Middle East couldn’t agree on anything. Northern European countries refused to house refugees. Industrialized countries wouldn’t budge on environmental issues. All the while, the officer of the room continuously screamed “decorum” (the political science euphemism for shut the hell up).

It was during this time I learned why the U.N. has such problems actually getting anything done. Apparently people from different countries don’t like to compromise, and there are many delegates that are just flat-out bad rhetoricians as far as selling resolutions go.

And we all spoke the same language. I can’t even imagine the tomfoolery had we needed to use translators like the real U.N.

I sat back comfortably on my high horse watching all of this. Of course I don’t dabble in the political sciences, but luckily for me, this was the first year Model U.N. assembled an international press delegation.

Yours truly represented the British Broadcasting Company.

Impressing French and Panamanian delegates with my eloquent British BBC accent and wit, I also learned how insanely well versed in world politics an international journalist would have to be and how nuts anyone would need to be to actually go into international journalism.

The mornings were tough, the afternoons long and difficult and the nights liberating, but as we rode home in that dismal van that icy, somber Saturday afternoon, I felt as though I had just underwent an experience that indeed had reshuffled my preconceived notions of the U.N. and international politics as well.

Nor were the long islands bad, either.