Model UN cleans up at NYC conference

By Lauren Lavelle


From left: Jelani Walker, Aasim Johnson and Kenny Dillon holding three of their seven awards after representing Panama in the National Model United Nations Conference.

Rider’s Model UN team took home seven awards after representing Panama in the National Model United Nations Conference in New York City from April 9 to 13.

Now the most successful Model UN team in Rider’s 50-year history due to the abundance of their awards, the members of the team credit their success to the rigorous processes they had to go through in order to ready themselves for the conference.

“We start to prepare for the competition in the fall,” said senior history major Aasim Johnson. “We have a rigorous three-part tryout process. From there, if you are chosen, we give you a position paper to work on during winter break. During the spring semester, we have class every Thursday night and we go through everything you need to know for the conference. We teach how to write in the Model UN style, how to talk to other delegates and try to persuade them on our country’s position and how to give great speeches in a room full of people.”

Although the competition was fierce, with over 100 colleges and universities representing countries all over the world, the students felt they held their own and worked together in a way that brought home their various victories.

“My partner and I wrote a position paper that describes Panama’s views and proposed solutions on the topics presented to the World Food Program,” said junior global studies major Jillian Montilla. “Our work on that got us a position paper award, which we were so honored to receive. For the conference itself, when you’re on the train ride into the city, you can prep a speech or two, but for most people, you’re at this point where you kind of accept that you either got it or you don’t, and thankfully, for the way they trained us, it was the former.”

Along with their numerous achievements, the delegates stressed the experience they have gained from participating in conferences and are confident their future endeavors will be successful.

In particular, Johnson said his training will help while running for councilman in his hometown of Tinton Falls, New Jersey.

“By participating in Model UN, students get the leadership abilities that you would want in any career or in life,” said Johnson. “You work in big and small groups with stressful people with agendas, you learn how to write concisely and competently, you learn public speaking and negotiating skills. The list goes on.”

Montilla emphasized how being on the team has shaped her college experience.

“Coming onto the team, you know you’re becoming a part of something bigger than you,” she said. “You feel the demand for excellence backed by a history that extends half a century back and you’ve got to deliver on every test, every class, every speech. With leadership like we were fortunate enough to have this year, official or otherwise, you learn to stand, look a crowd in the eye and speak like you never thought you could. The awards and the recognition we have received have been a wonderful cherry on top to everything Model UN has given us, but getting those certificates wasn’t half bad either.”

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