Bellevue College’s Model United Nations (MUN) program has been running for upwards of 30 years, and after failing to attend the National MUN conference in New York for the first time in 25 years in 2020, they attended once more in 2021.
From the very start, the program faced unique challenges in this pandemic-stricken year. According to MUN Faculty Advisor Tim Jones, “In years past there has been a class available for participating MUN students, but this year (probably because of COVID) there wasn’t enough interest to justify running the class so the students largely prepared on their own.” This did however mean that the students involved were self-driven and ended up being excellent, as Jones described.
Even the conference itself was massively different. The conference was, predictably, held virtually this year, essentially robbing the students from their chances to travel to New York. Elaborating what exactly this entailed, Jones said, “They missed out on the opportunity to meet real foreign diplomats from the country they represented (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), missed out on the opportunity to visit the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations and missed out on the excitement of traveling to one of the world’s great cities dressing up and looking and acting professional with thousands of smart, engaged students from around the world.”
Nevertheless, the students involved all made their mark on the conference. The five students involved ended up bringing home three individual awards. Tomas Paramo was awarded the Outstanding Position Paper for UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), while Hannah Stoddard and the Watchdog’s own Adam Brewster won Outstanding Position Papers for their assignments on the Security Council. The other two students, Nellie Agadzhanova and Julia Lopez, while not winning individual awards, helped to bring back the Honorable Mention Delegation for their work. Jones considered this particularly notable as the delegations competing with BC were mainly composed of third- and fourth-year students from four-year universities.
Stoddard joined the MUN Program in the Fall 2019 quarter, making this her fourth conference to participate in. According to her, “Participating in the MUN Program has been one of my most meaningful experiences at Bellevue College, not only fueling my desire to major in international studies, but also fostering strong friendships and connections among my peers. It has grown my skills in research, writing, diplomacy, and public speaking — skills which I have found valuable and applicable in other opportunities and positions.” And despite the downsides to doing the conference virtually, Jones saw great value in the learning that the students took part in, saying, “They got to practice seeing the world from a different perspective than the United States and developed skills related to research, writing, public speaking, negotiating, diplomacy and problem solving.”
And so BC once again showed excellence at a national level at their most recent conference. Despite their repeated success, the S&A committee currently making funding decisions for next year may decide that the program is noncompliant with state rules that prevent funding from going to programs for which there is an associated for-credit class, like MUN. Since MUN currently relies on that funding, Jones hopes that “the students’ success in New York helps our cause to keep our longstanding funding.”