Six members of the Bellevue College Model United Nations club and class were in the Czech Republic for a National MUN conference with 500 students representing dozens of schools from all over the world. Of the BC students, four were sophomores and two were freshmen and half had never left the country.
Tim Jones, chair of the Political Science and International Studies programs at Bellevue College, is the instructor of the Bellevue College MUN. Members of the club take a two-credit class in the fall, three credits in winter, and five in spring. Every year they take a trip to New York for a conference in the spring and sometimes they will go to an international conference in the fall, such as the one they recently returned from.
At the conferences, each team is assigned a country and a few select topics. The student teams then research and present as if they are UN delegates from their assigned country.
This year, Veronica Ross chose to discuss international cooperation against terrorism in light of recent attacks. According to Ross, they discussed solutions such as information sharing, border control, cyber security and confidence-building measures. Because of the work of Ross and other members of Bellevue College and other schools, the committee passed eight resolutions to address cooperation against terrorism.
This year’s international conference was held in Olomouc, which Jones described as a “beautiful town with cool churches and a lot of history.” They attended the conference for four days and went on a cultural tour of Prague, the capital city, as well as the former Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.
The three tiers of awards that colleges can get at the event are Outstanding Delegation, Distinguished Delegation and Honorable Mention. Of the 50 schools attending, five were awarded Outstanding Delegation and five, including BC, recieved Distinguished Delegation. This put BC in the top 10 out of 50 schools. Jones described this as impressive because most of the colleges represented there are four year schools with juniors and seniors.
This year, under head delegate Austin White, Vanessa Ross and Joel Allen won Outstanding Paper Awards. White’s job as head delegate was to do more work in terms of preparing the students and assisting them along the way, as a returning member to the international conference. Although the three aforementioned students, along with Gabe Amare were sophomores, two freshmen, Marian Lewis and Henry LaVallee attended as well. Jones explained that the goal for this is to give new people experience so that they can soon become the leaders of the group.
Ross explained that this was her third MUN conference and she has won an Outstanding Paper award at each one. She said only part of winning is being a good writer, and that the reason she succeeded was that she worked hard beforehand. “Writing a good position paper requires not only strong writing skills but also a degree of creativity,” she said, explaining that as a delegate, she had to think outside the box in order to find substantive solutions to a real-world problem.