Students of the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point’s Model United Nations (UN) organization are preparing to represent Egypt at the National Model UN conference in New York City in March 2013.
Model UN is a conference that takes place all over the world. The conference is meant to simulate the happenings of the real United Nations by assigning specified countries to teams of students from around the world. Stephanie Metropulos, president of Model UN, will be attending the conference.
“Each school represents one or two countries depending on the number of members participating. UWSP traditionally has only one team, and this year we will be Egypt, which is huge. Right now, Egypt is a country at the forefront of international politics,” Metropulos said.
In the past, UWSP has represented Iraq, Guatemala, Columbia, Japan and a few other countries at the conference. Once at the conference, each country is divided up into committees that reflect the UN committees that each country currently represents.
The overall goal of the conference is to best represent the country assigned. This means that each school must do research and study their country: its foreign policy, economics, leaders and the culture. Committees are then made up based on the characteristics of each country in the hopes of solving a problem.
“Last year, as Iraq, I was on a committee on the status of women. In order to accurately represent Iraq on a committee about women, my partner and I had to have an understanding of the Koran,” Metropulos said. “Iraq supports women’s rights so long as they do not conflict with the Koran.”
There is a variation of committees for the overall conference. Some write resolutions and reports in relation to the topic, but many committee members may just observe what is going on in the assembly. The conference takes four days in New York City, and the last day of the conference is within the General Assembly room of the United Nations building.
Faculty advisor and political science professor Jianwei Wang believes that the Model UN and the conference are an excellent way to learn about the world’s issues and expand one’s knowledge on a variety of topics.
“Model UN is good exposure for the students. It is useful for them to immerse themselves into someone else’s shoes and take a new look at the views of other people,” Wang said. “It opens intellectual horizons and nurtures an interest in the awareness of international issues.”
Wang also offers a political science course that helps Model UN members get ready for the conference, something he calls “international simulation.” The course is about the UN and teaches students the basics of the assembly so they can practice mock sessions before the conference.
“The conference is good practice for the students. It allows them to use what they have learned in the classroom and at our meetings for the organization,” Wang said. “They are learning valuable communication skills that they can use and apply to many different things outside of the conference and classroom.”
The Model UN meets weekly at 7:30 p.m. in the Reference Studio of the UWSP library. Students of all majors are encouraged to attend the meetings to learn more about the organization or join to participate.