Model U.N. club gets hands-on experience

Micah Brown

Saddleback College students assumed the role of Columbian delegates in this year’s National Model United Nations conference, held April 5-11 in New York. Ten members of Saddleback’s Model United Nations club, advised by professor Lee Haggerty, made the trip to the United Nations in New York City last week to get some hands-on experience in international diplomacy.

The NMUN conference, sponsored by the National Collegiate Conference Association, attracted more than 4,000 students and faculty to the Big Apple from colleges and universities spanning five continents.

One of the delegates, Saddleback student Oliver Burchill, 19, political science, reflected on working with students from all over the world.

“It’s an international conference, so it’s a great educational experience to jump into the world of diplomacy and international relations,” Burchill said. “I learned a lot.”

According to Burchill, the delegates from each school represented their assigned countries in the manner UN delegates do, working with allies and communicating with other nations to solve international issues.

“We have to do preliminary research before we go [in order] to understand the topics that we are assigned,” Burchill said. “Our committee successfully passed most of the papers that we proposed. “

Instructor Haggerty was pleased with the preparation and dedication of the Saddleback delegates.

“The students worked hard and they were committed to the cause,” Haggerty said. “I think they learned an awful lot. They had the unique experience of [working at] the United Nations, [one] that in many cases, private citizens don’t get a chance to be a part of.”

Although the Saddleback delegation team did not receive any formal recognition during the conference, Haggerty and his students were delighted with their overall experience.

“It kind of gives that ambience, the actual feeling of what it must be like to be a representative from your country,” Haggerty said.

“This is my second year with MUN, [and] it was really good being able to go back to New York. I met up with some people that I met last year,” said Peter Kim, 19, political science. “It’s a really great networking experience. You learn a lot about diplomacy and different countries and their foreign policy.”

Haggerty hopes that Saddleback will feature a United Nations class in time for the next conference.

“My students were competing against other colleges and universities that have a United Nations class,” explained Haggerty, who has been taking students to these conferences since he first formed the MUN club at Saddleback almost 20 years ago. “I’ve recommended a class to the curriculum committee so that next year we will be on equal footing.”

Apart from the networking, committee meetings, and hours of hard work, the students still had time during their six-day stay in Manhattan to soak in the sights of the big city.

“It was awesome. The city was alive,” said Connor Ames, 20, English. “We met some pretty cool people [and] had some good experiences. We went to Times Square, and walked in Central Park.”

Overall, the students were grateful for having the opportunity to interact with students and college representatives from all over the world, as well as to see first-hand the inner-workings of the United Nations. The global platform prompted many students to reassess their own worldview.

“You really see things from a global perspective, which I found that a lot of people here in California lack,” Kim said. “I thought that it was a very, very good experience. Our delegates did really well.”

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