By Jessica Hoogendoorn
The Syrian Arab Republic may be a small country, but it achieved big things at this year’s Model United Nations (U.N.) global conference held March 18 to 22 in New York City.
Rider’s team received the Outstanding Delegation Award for its cooperation, diplomacy and ability to stay in character. More than 290 schools from Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe and the United States were present at the conference. Only 17 teams were awarded the Outstanding Delegation Award, placing Rider in the top 10 percent.
“They put themselves in the shoes of a Syrian ambassador,” senior and team leader Mike Segal said. “They made all the right moves and said all the right things to represent Syria in the right way.”
This was the 39th year that Rider participated. The majority of the conference took place at the Sheraton Hotel, but the teams went to the actual U.N. building on the last day to vote on the resolutions and reports that had been passed by the Model U.N. committees. The team was also able to sit at the actual desk of Syria on the General Assembly floor and vote.
“It’s one thing to have the simulations in the classroom and to work in the hotel, but when you actually go to the U.N. and you’re outside the U.N. with all the flags outside and everything, it does bring it to another level,” said Anthony Coruccini, graduate student and team leader.
At the conference, the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and President of the General Assembly Dr. Srgjan Kerim addressed the teams. Having these two people, who are main members of the U.N., taking time out to address the teams about the importance of what they are doing is a testament to the prestige of the conference, said senior and team leader Jesse Forsythe.
While at the conference, the team went to the Syrian Mission and met a diplomat. Dr. Barbara Franz, the Model U.N. adviser, said that meeting the Syrian diplomat helped students stay in character during the conference because they were able to see how an actual Syrian U.N. diplomat acted. After all, the students had to “become Syria.” They had to know the positions of Syria from “blood diamonds to nuclear arms,” said Franz.
Prior to attending the conference at the Sheraton, the team attended a simulation conference at City University of New York (CUNY) where it won three of the top four awards. The team did so well that it raised some questions among the other contestants.
“Someone went up to complain about our team saying, ‘I don’t think that it’s the first year for these people. Rider’s team is a bunch of veterans,’” Forsythe said. “And hearing that, having someone complain that we’re doing so well in the committee that we couldn’t possibly be doing it for the first time, is awesome.”
Although Model U.N. is offered as a three-credit course under political science, it is not limited to students within that major. According to Franz, students of all majors should participate because Model U.N. will help improve their public speaking, researching techniques and diplomatic writing skills.
Model U.N. will be holding a teach-in on April 24 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Sweigart 119.