The New Mexico State University Model United Nations team took home top honors from the virtual 2021 National Model U.N. Conference, continuing a strong track record of achievement since the 1990s. Last year’s conference was unexpectedly cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
NMSU’s Model U.N. team earned the title Outstanding Delegation at the conference, which ran virtually from April 5-8. In receiving the Outstanding Delegation designation, the NMSU Model U.N. team achieved the highest recognition awarded at the conference. NMSU represented the United States during the mock summit, which focused on several major issues, including the establishment of a nuclear-free Middle East.
“The students did an excellent job of not only learning about current global issues but also how to present coherent arguments and proposals in cooperation with other delegates,” said Neil Harvey, government professor and department head who served as the group’s faculty adviser. “The fact they were able to do so well, despite the challenges of the virtual format, is a testament to our students’ commitment to maintaining the high standards of the NMSU Model U.N. program.”
The delegation awards are calculated by quantifying the work done in committee, taking into account attendance, participation and other areas such as proper use of the rules of procedure. The schools are then put into three tiers based off their total points - Outstanding, Distinguished and Honorable Mention.
“Receiving the outstanding delegation award means the members of our team were active participants in their respective committees and stayed in character,” said Iliana Viscarra, team president and NMSU Model U.N. member for four years.
“That means our delegates representing the U.S. were knowledgeable on U.S. policies and stances on issues and acted accordingly in committee. It also means that a majority of our delegates took leadership within their committees.”
Since the conference was not held in-person this year, students used the online event platform Gatherly to navigate different virtual “floors” and “rooms” to participate in various events.
“Each day we would discuss things with our other delegates, work on our working papers, really trying to collaborate to tackle the issues at hand,” Viscarra said. “For my committee, we were focused on how to empower conflict-impacted youth and our focus was education as means for empowerment. The majority of days we were giving speeches and working on papers.”
Although the students could not go to New York as usual, there were still many benefits to the virtual conference. “It allows a lot more people from around the world and maybe people who may not be able to attend the conference, especially with the pandemic, a chance to attend,” said sophomore government student Cole Vetter, who was supposed to attend his first conference last March when it was cancelled.
“I am just happy to have the opportunity to participate in the conference even virtually, since last year we did not have that chance,” Vetter said.
Viscarra, who will be graduating this December, has participated in three national conferences and was concerned about how different the virtual experience would be. “I was pretty apprehensive about it at first but now having actually done it for the week it was very exciting and interactive. Because we were online, we were able to interact more with the other delegates, bigger group chats and more exchanging of information,” Viscarra said.
Looking to the future, the Model U.N. team will prepare for next year’s national conference in New York and the international conference in the Czech Republic in the Fall, hoping the pandemic allows for an in-person event.
Regardless, the students are grateful for the opportunity to put their skills on display and participate in the national conference.
“It feels amazing to have the talents and skills of our wonderful team recognized. It is also great to see how much our team was able to get done and how far they've come given the unusual nature of this year,” Viscarra said.
“While our team isn't the most well-known or recognized we consistently have incredible individuals that work hard and maintain our winning streak at our national conference. I couldn't be more proud and I am excited to see where the team goes from here.”
Later this year, a unique NMSU Model U.N. team composed of veteran members plan to participate, for the second time, in the Olomouc International Model United Nations Conference in the Czech Republic. This will be the second time that an NMSU Model U.N. team has participated abroad.
To learn more about the NMSU Model U.N. team, visit https://mun.nmsu.edu.