Salem College’s National Model United Nations will be going to New York to represent Liechtenstein this year under new leadership and with new strategies.
National Model United Nations is an opportunity for students to learn about the diplomatic process through role play, where each school is assigned a country and the students act as delegates for that country. The delegations are divided into groups where they are given a specific issue that they have to address. Head delegate Mara Dygert explained that this year Salem College will be representing Liechtenstein and addressing topics such as “cyber security and protection from cyber warfare, the role of urbanization in sustainable development, the right of peoples to self-determination, sexual abuse cases by UN peacekeepers, promoting the involvement of women in government, the eradication of chemical weapons.” When they go to New York, each group will serve on a committee and represent their country’s interest and negotiate treaties with delegates from other schools.
This opportunity is very helpful for people interested in pursuing a career in diplomacy and good practice for those who want to work in the state department. However, Model UN leader Dr. Wemlinger pointed out that Model UN develops skills such the “ability to negotiate, ability to compromise, ability to work towards solutions that are acceptable for all the groups” which are “standard skills that you need in any profession.” In addition to building these skills, junior Keeleigh Utt explained that Model UN is really good for networking and making friends. It allows students to meet with people who are like minded and build relationships with them.
The team worked extremely hard this year and even developed a few new approaches. Utt explained that they spent Mondays working in their individual groups then came together on Wednesday to practice speech drills. “The team elected to work more collaboratively under student leadership and guidance to draft position papers, prepare binders for committee, practice the deliverance of committee speeches, and drill one another on facts and general knowledge regarding the Principality of Liechtenstein,” Dygert said. Dr. Wemlinger also commented that the team spent weeks writing and editing their position papers and were very pleased when they submitted the papers and saw how well they had done.
This year, Salem’s Model UN is under new leadership. In the past, Dr. Foley has served as the professor for the Model UN class, but he has passed the torch to Dr. Wemlinger. Utt reflected on the great job Dr. Wemlinger has done this year, saying she appreciated that Wemlinger served as more of a facilitator and gave very clear feedback. However, Wemlinger did grant the class a little more leeway than Dr. Foley has in the past and this ended up hurting the group a little as they struggled to meet a couple deadlines. Given that this is her first time teaching the Model UN class, Utt thinks Dr. Wemlinger did well overall. Dygert praised Wemlinger for encouraging the “increase in cooperation and collaboration between students” this year as they “seek to hold one another accountable for [their] success at the convention as a team.”
The competition takes place in New York this year, where the team will spend most of their time working in committees, but there are some cool things they will get the opportunity to do. “This is an amazing opportunity because students will get to compete in the United Nations headquarters, and will get to experience first hand the grandiosity of the experience. We will also have the chance to attend and observe an actual UN committee session which is an experience that, as an International Relations major, I cannot stress the importance of enough,” Dygert gushed.
The National Model UN conference takes place from March 25 to 29. The team is well prepared and excited about Model UN. They are sure to do great in New York with the support of their Salem siblings and friends.