UWL students gain lifelong memories at Model UN conference

Julia Balli, General Assignment Reporter

The 2018 American Model United Nations conference was held from Nov. 17-20 in Chicago, Ill. For University of Wisconsin–La Crosse students taking the Model UN: The United Nations System course, many were required to attend this conference, which offered an overall rewarding and knowledgeable experience. 

“As the faculty adviser, my experience at the conference was very rewarding because I got to sit back and witness tremendous growth in our students. They work hard all semester learning about their nation’s foreign policies, their nation’s position on the topics they are negotiating on, the rules and procedures of the conference proceedings, strategies on effective negotiating, public speaking and so much more. At the conference, they push themselves out of their comfort zone and put their new skills to the test,” said Miranda TerBeest, UWL Model UN course professor. 

Model UN is an educational simulation in which middle school, high school and college students from across the nation travel to the conference in order to learn about diplomacy, international relations and the United Nations. Prior to the event, participants in Model UN conferences, known as delegates, are assigned countries to represent. They are presented with their assignments in advance, along with a topic or topics that their committee will discuss. Delegates conduct research before the conference, and upon arrival they debate with other delegates at the conference, representing their nation and advocating for their views on a particular issue. 

“[Attending this conference] offers the opportunity for students to see the world differently. It pushes students to fight for complex global issues that affect their own lives but from a perspective that is not their own. Through this experience students build up their skills in how to effectively negotiate, navigate difficult conversations, public speak, exude confidence and embrace their leadership style all while learning about the way the world works,” said TerBeest. 

In 2017, the American Model UN had about 1,450 student attendees at the conference from 73 registered schools. Of those schools, 18 were graduate schools, according to the AMUN accords. This year, 24 UWL students attended the conference in Chicago, with their majors including political science, communications, biology and finance.  

“Students benefit a ton from attending Model United Nations. The simulation provides a realistic comparison to the actual United Nations and representing a country or countries causes participants to know the ins-and-outs of each country. [The experience] left me with a greater knowledge of local and international affairs, and a great group of friends,” said UWL senior Jack Lawlis, who attended two Model UN conferences in the past.