Students from JSC’s Model UN attend conference in Boston


courtesy of Agathe Fredette

Delegates socializing during the cultural bazaar

Every year, students from over 70 colleges and universities across the globe come together to participate in the Harvard National Model United Nations conference in Boston, Massachusetts. Each school’s Model UN team or club is assigned a country to represent at the HNMUN conference where they participate in a simulation of the meetings and debates of the United Nations.

On Feb. 11, the Johnson State College Model United Nations club traveled to Boston to attend the 62nd Harvard National Model United Nations Conference during Valentine’s Day weekend. Over the weekend, the hundreds of delegates were housed in a large hotel within the city where a majority of the conference was held.

“Teams from different colleges and universities take on the identity of a certain country and take on the policy positions of that country,” said John Dabrowski, a senior at JSC. “They negotiate and sign on the papers, and contribute to debates and policies as if they were actual members of their country’s government.”

Dabrowski has been president of the JSC Model UN club since his sophomore year, and this was his third time attending the HNMUN while part of the club.

“It has helped me be able to work with others and work through points of disagreement in a professional way,” said Dabrowski. “I’ve worked with other people from a variety of different cultures and countries, and I think that has been a very valuable experience.”

During the conference, delegates of each country came together with their committees to debate and discuss a variety of subjects and issues, as a way to come to an agreed upon resolution through position papers.

This year, the JSC Model UN club was assigned the Bahamas to represent at the conference. There are four different assemblies: the Legal Committee; the Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural committee; the Disarmament and International Security committee; and the Special Political and Decolonization committee.

“I think it really develops a better understanding of the rest of world we live in and larger global community we are part of,” said Dabrowski. “It exposes people to concepts that are outside their everyday bubble and the things they are exposed to on an everyday basis.”

Prior to the conference, members of the Model UN teams or clubs are required to conduct in-depth research of the facts and history of their assigned country, to become familiar with the country’s policy positions and stances. These topics can include economics, foreign policies, prison laws, environmental regulations, and social, cultural, and humanitarian issues.

“My favorite part about attending a conference is seeing it all play out,” said Jennifer Many, a senior at JSC, who this year attended the conference for the third time. “You don’t fully understand what exactly is going to happen until you’re standing in a committee room and hearing others speak their points.”

The HNMUN conference is a highly structured event, with moderators assigned to each committee. Committees met at least six times over the weekend to discuss and debate a specific issue related to their topic, which was picked by a majority vote.

“My committee spent a lot of time deliberating resolutions for Universal Jurisdiction,” said Jake Rogenski, a senior at JSC. “This has taught me a lot of international law, while also allowing me to work collaboratively with students across the globe, so along with the topic I was also able to learn about many global cultures.”

Members of the committee take turns proposing topics for debate and then giving short speeches. Because it is such a hands-on experience, delegates are able to practice important skills such as public speaking, negotiating, debating, critical writing, substantial research, and teamwork.

“I think the experience has been invaluable, especially because of my interest in political science, international relations and comparative politics. It’s definitely an applicable experience going forward in life,” said Dabrowski. “I have a better idea of what goes into diplomacy and international relations as a whole and I’m applying concepts during the conference that I’ve learned in class.”

Both Dabrowski and Rogenski said that attending the HNMUN conference has helped develop their leadership skills and given them a better global perspective of the world and the diplomacies of each country.

“It brings diversity and creative thought to each student who pursues attending this event and more global perspectives and diversified thought to the college,” said Rogenski.

Although it might seem like all work and no play, the conference weekend is not without its fun events for delegates. Throughout the weekend, delegates get to enjoy a variety of evening activities after the long day of committee debates, including a delegate dance, club night, casino night, a cultural bazaar, and closing ceremonies.

“My first experience at the conference, I was just so in awe. You’re really just trying to soak it all in,” said Dabrowski. “This year I still had those moments, but I knew what to expect and really wanted to be as genuinely knowledgeable about the topic as much as I could.”

For others, such as Rogenski, it was their first time experiencing the conference. Rogenski joined the Model UN club this year.

Rogenski said his favorite part about the conference was these social events, and said that he believes that they give students a once-in-a-lifetime experience to meet other students from around the world.

“I would recommend the experience to any student interested in learning about international politics, other students’ cultures, and simply meeting new people,” said Rogenski.

Because of the huge amount of international students that attend the conference, delegates are given the chance to make new connections and friendships with people from around the world. Dabrowski said that a vast majority of the contacts and connections he has made are with students from abroad.

“Young people from countries that we portray in our media as poor or inferior are often some of the smartest and most knowledgeable people at the conference,” said Dabrowski.

Dabrowski says that all JSC students are welcome and encouraged to join the club, regardless of their majors.

“You don’t have to be a political science major or anything related to get something out of this, because of the wide array of topics covered at the conference,” said Dabrowski. “I think there is room for everyone to contribute to this club.”

The JSC Model UN team represented at the HNMUN for 2015-2016 comprised Catherine Church, John Dabrowski, Alannah Farley, Agathe Fredette, Jennifer Many, Paul Massey, Jake Rogenski, and Zachary Shuttle.