A group of Sonoma State University students travelled to New York City last week for the National Model United Nations Conference, a program where students from across the globe participate in a series of hands-on simulations of the UN tackling world issues ranging from terrorism to human rights. By the end of the conference, this year’s Model UN delegation from Sonoma State took home two awards, marking the 12th award the university has won in the last six years.
“Given that Sonoma State’s delegation consists each year of almost an entirely new group of students, our success in the face of this kind of international competition is remarkable, and I’m extremely proud of us,” said the program’s Faculty Adviser Cynthia Boaz.
Sonoma State’s delegation won an Outstanding Delegate Award and Honorable Mention Award, continuing the program’s long-standing history of success at the university.
The group of 22 students in this year’s delegation came from a range of majors, each bringing a unique skillset to the program. Representing the nation of Ireland, each student was assigned a committee in the United Nations and within that committee, had to portray their nation in solving world issues.
During the trip, students were also able to see the United Nations headquarters, something that Model UN Club President Valeria Quintana sees as the highlight of the trip.
“I aspire to work for the UN in the future, so being able to be at that location was a blessing and an honor,” said Quintana.
Sonoma State’s delegation began preparing for last week’s conference in January, and in a matter of two months, students became experts on how the UN operates and the role of Ireland on the world stage.
The conference draws students from all across the world — some of whom have spent the past year preparing, making the competition aspect of the conference a bit daunting.
“We had the best experience possible,” said Quintana. “Even though we only had two months to prepare, I believe Sonoma State was up there in the ranks with the schools that had years to prepare.”
Edward Goquingco, senior political science major and one of the program’s head delegates, is proud of the relationships that were built during the trip and believes the true benefit of Model UN can be seen in the friendships that were developed between the delegates.
“Everyone did great. I am proud of the relationships and camaraderie we shared [during the trip],” said Goquingco. “Being friends with [the delegation] is more important to me than being head delegate.”
Model UN is both a political science class and club at Sonoma State, though Boaz believes students of any major can benefit from participating and can bring a diverse viewpoint to the program.
During the conference, students spoke numerous times in front of audiences on how they believe an issue should be solved from the stance of the nation they’re representing — making public speaking and persuasion skills essential to a delegation’s success.
“I have seen several students who were too shy to speak up in classes when they joined Model UN, and by the time they finished the program, they were some of the most confident and outspoken students in their courses,” said Boaz. “Students build skills in writing, researching, analysis and more. But perhaps the most important thing all MUN students gain is a boost in their self-confidence as scholars and citizens.”
In the last few years, Sonoma State has represented nations like Cuba, Venezuela and Nigeria — some of which presented controversy because of world events at the time. The choice to represent Ireland wasone influenced by Boaz, who spent the fall semester on sabbatical in the nation. Having Boaz’ knowledge from living in Ireland for a period of time, proved to be beneficial to the delegation. Students were able to gain insight on the politics and culture of Ireland and were able to more accurately portray that nation at the conference — something every university aims to do.
Model United Nations is a program offered in the spring semester of every academic year and those interested in participating in the program are encouraged to contact Boaz at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kayla E. Galloway is a member of this year’s Model United Nations Program.