A new addition to student clubs on campus, Model United Nations (NCFMUN) serves as an educational simulation and academic competition in which students learn about international diplomacy and relations within the United Nations. Even for students who are not interested in foreign and international policy, the club offers opportunities to learn communication, teamwork and leadership skills. The club’s secretary-general, second-year Lara Herzog, calls it “LARPing in business suits.”
Though the club is currently in the middle of elections, second-years Briana Nieves and Rachael Hargrove are acting as under-secretary-general and secretary of administration respectively.
Together, the three have worked diligently for more than a year to make NCFMUN a reality for this semester. “We wrote and passed pages upon pages of bylaws over the summer and created a functioning discourse for ourselves to begin to assimilate Model UN into New College culture,” Nieves said. “We also had to create a club that didn’t seem sterile and felt comfortable and inclusive to students of all backgrounds and experiences.”
Overall, their work has resulted in a success. More than 60 students expressed interest in the club at Club Fair, and at the first meeting approximately half who signed up showed up.
In NCFMUN, members are asked to designate their preferred country to represent and address the issues of that country in a mock UN setting. While most wanted to represent the United States and European countries instead of smaller, lesser-known ones, “You’d be surprised what a little country can do,” Herzog said.
“There will be workshops focused on the basics [of the UN] and open to all of NCF, where guest speakers will come to talk about different topics,” she said. An entire workshop will be dedicated to Conference of the Parties (Cop 21), an upcoming environmental conference within the UN, on Oct. 11. All are encouraged to attend.
The club also has plans for a Model-UN-themed vegan brunch at Four Winds on Oct. 24 for United Nations Day. “This is a great way to cultivate inclusiveness. We plan on holding more events that get students who aren’t familiar with the club in the know,” Nieves said.
The first official meeting occurred on Sept. 3, and the first workshop on Sept. 13, with both meetings and workshops happening every other week. Herzog stressed that being new to NCFMUN should not be a deterrent. Students are welcome to join at any time. NCFMUN will also welcome new students next semester, accommodating to those who wish to join later in the school year.
While competitions are anticipated in the future Herzog said there will not be any this year. “There are not a lot [of Model UN teams] in the southeast. We want to make a good team so traveling expenses will be worth it.”
But there is merit in participating non-competitively, Nieves said. “I feel as keepers of this world, and in specific the future, we should push humanity to become aware and present to each other – and why not in the form of formal discussion and diplomacy? Where other to begin than educating all in the processes that lead to communication and understanding between nations and states.”