Conference promotes cross-cultural awareness


by Sarah Butler

For almost 20 years, Simpson students have participated in theMidwest Model United Nations Conference. This year 22 students fromSimpson, the only Iowa school that participates, will attend theconference and defend their countries interests.

Countries are assigned to each of the 50 or so schools thatparticipate. This year Simpson will be representing Spain,Portugal, and Cameroon. Attending students will learn the history,politics and cultures of their assigned countries and thenrepresent them at the conference, which draws about 800 studentsfrom around the Midwest.

“Model UN is an excellent opportunity to develop a uniqueunderstanding of another country. In addition, participation in thesimulation is a good way to develop public speaking skills,interpersonal skills, teamwork skills and persuasive skills,” saidEduardo Magalhaes III, who leads Simpson’s Model UN.

This extracurricular group also offers students the option ofearning one credit in political science. In order to earn thiscredit and participate in the Model UN, students are assigned tocommittees for a certain country. The whole group meets once aweek, but the group members spend a lot of their own time preparingmaterials they find online and in the library.

For junior Mark Fuller, this will be his first experience withModel UN.

“I am really enjoying it. I have gotten to know the people inthe group a lot better since we began,” he said.

Besides being an opportunity to meet other local students,sophomore Chris Erickson, who is in his second year with Model UN,said the experience offers a lot more.

“I think that it is a great experience to meet a lot of peoplefrom all over the Midwest,” he said. “It gives students a chance toexplore politics from an interactive perspective and to have achance to represent other countries and explore their culture in anextremely supportive atmosphere.”

The Midwest Model United Nations Conference meets once a year atthe Hyatt Union Station in St. Louis, Missouri and awards are givento outstanding delegations.

But, as Magalhaes emphasized, the project is “primarily alearning experience.”

Dustin Smothers said that what he values is the experiencegained by participating in Model UN.

“I look at it as a serious opportunity to get a better grasp onhow world political issues are handled,” he said. “It is also aterrific opportunity to gain experience working with global issuesand to learn about a different culture by spending so much timefocused on a specific country and their views on globalsituations.”