The BC Model UN is both a class and a club that prepares participating students with the necessary skills and knowledge to become delegates for Bellevue College at Model UN conferences worldwide. BC MUN split up into two groups for the fall conferences, the northwest conference in Seattle from Nov. 21 to 23 and the national conference in Rome from Nov. 23 to Nov. 29.
Model United Nations is a nonprofit organization that offers college students from around the world the opportunity to represent part of the global community. Austin White, serving as the head delegate for the Seattle conference, explained:
“At any MUN conference, your school is a delegation and they are given a country to represent. They are also tasked a United Nations committee and within those committees, you are assigned a topic that has to be addressed. […] You were tasked with taking a topic and a country’s viewpoint. You would have to do research about the country in order to correctly represent them.”
At the Northwest Model United Nations conference, BC MUN acted as numerous countries – Nigeria, Poland, Sudan, Barbados, Estonia and Malaysia. According to White, topics such as, “renewable energy and other contemporary issues” are often assigned to and discussed by delegates. Furthermore, White illustrated that “Each student is given a country and a committee and must research the appropriate details for their role.”
Ellen Gilley was one of the BC students who attended the conference in Rome. “This trip took an interesting turn before we even left Seattle: our Head Delegate Anna Brosius had a little trouble with her passport, so she did not leave Seattle with our group,” Gilley said. “So, while unplanned, I had to step into the role of head delegate for two days while Anna got her affairs in order.” Brosius ended up arriving on Nov. 25, and joined her committee soon after.
Gilley said that at this conference, “the delegates were prepared and really excited to work on the topics, which made the conference really enjoyable and a great learning experience.” Beside the preliminary research and conference itself, “being in Rome is a totally different experience.” Gilley, who has participated in three previous conferences, said “we really enjoyed going on the cultural tours and learning more about the fascinating city of Rome.” She added “Of course we wanted everyone to be able to attend the Rome conference, however it was not feasible to take all 20 students. The Rome conference was for those who could afford it [and who were available for the week].” BC MUN was also represented by new members Chu Yang and Haruna Ase. Both are first-year students at BC and were novice participants during the conference. According to Yang, “It helped open my eyes to the country’s and the world’s current situation.” Ase shared Yang’s sentiment and added, “It was so hard for me to follow the discussion, but I loved the experience. It was a good learning experience and I learned how people politically discuss and reach a conclusion about problems in the world.” Both of them experienced nervousness during public speaking, but they both agreed that they tried their best.
Ase, an IBP student majoring in global politics, joined the class because “another Japanese student who went to the New York MUN conference, said that she loved the experience.” Furthermore, Ase explained that this program helped her “understand more about my major.” Gilley is also “interested in earning an international relations degree,” she added. “I think the shared interest for MUN students is the globalized world. We have a variety of career goals represented in our MUN class at BC: business, law, nursing, political science, teaching, engineering, etc. But our common interest is our acknowledgment of our futures as a part of an international community that can work together to improve our world.”
MUN offers students the chance to learn about international affairs, as well as improve their own skills. Ase shared that “public speaking was one of the hardest parts for me, during the conference.” Yang, on the other hand, said that, “the hardest part was learning as I go.” He indicated he was a beginner in the MUN program by stating, “I’ve only been in the class for three weeks and I’m already going to a conference. I didn’t have much practice at all and the only experience I had was from the simulations in class.” Yang also added that Ian Melendez, a BC student who has attended previous conferences, gave him advice on how to handle his situation: “Ian told me ‘there are a lot of people with great ideas here and you’re being thrown into something you don’t really know how to navigate in. But throw yourself into the group and learn as you go.’” Additionally, Yang indicated that “Next conference, I hope to speak a lot more and I plan on persevering and being more open through the research.”