UM Model United Nations Students Travel to NYC for International Conference

April 22, 2015

MISSOULA – Twelve University of Montana students on the Montana Model United Nations Team recently joined 3,500 students from across the globe at an international conference in New York City. They spent five days working on committees and in plenary sessions acting as delegates of the Kingdom of Bahrain.    

UM students represented the Kingdom of Bahrain on the following committees:    

  • Andrew Surratt of Missoula, senior, political science, served on the Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
  • Mariah Leder of Missoula, senior, political science, served on the Treaty of Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
  • Betsy Story, of Emigrant, junior, political science, Russian and Arabic, served on the United Nations Environmental Programme.
  • Maggie Hering, of Salem, Oregon, junior, political science, French and Arabic, served on the United Nations Environmental Programme.
  • Dani Howlett of Polson, senior, political science, international development and global public health, served in the General Assembly Second Committee.
  • Megan Harbaugh of Spokane, Washington, junior, political science, economics and music, served in the General Assembly Second Committee.
  • Mary O’Malley, of Maysville, West Virginia, junior, political science, served in the General Assembly Third Committee.
  • Jared Halvorson, of Missoula, sophomore, economics, political science and mathematics, served in the General Assembly Third Committee.
  • Sydney Ausen, of Billings, senior, Spanish and international development studies, served in the Economic and Social Commission of Western Asia.
  • Wyatt B. Smith, of Missoula, freshman, economics and political science, served in the Economic and Social Commission of Western Asia.
  • Cody Meixner, of Missoula, junior, political science, Arabic and History, served in the General Assembly First Committee.
  • James Alan Rolph, of Seattle, senior, journalism and political science, served in the General Assembly First Committee.

The team interacted with students from all over the globe while acting in the capacity of a diplomat of a nation that is far from their own home and culture.

“I enjoyed working across cultures not only through the countries we represented but through each delegations origin,” O’Malley said.

Smith also enjoyed the international aspect of the conference. “I loved working with students from all over the world who had differing perspectives on almost everything,” he said. “It was also memorable to spend time with delegates outside of committee sessions and hear their stories about how they ended up in New York.”

The team members were divided into two-person teams for each committee, and each team worked hard to either write or substantially edit and contribute to a “working paper” with anywhere from five to 30 other delegates. The sizes of the committees ranged from around 30 to up to 180 delegations.

“My most memorable moment was when I facilitated a discussion between working groups and was perceived as the great mediator of the group,” said Leder, who served in one of the more intimate committees. “My authority, opinions and diplomatic skills were respected and trusted. After the discussion I was thanked repeatedly by every group present.”

For Halvorson, the most memorable experience was the closing ceremony, when the team visited the United Nations for the first time. “The feeling of being in the General Assembly Hall at the UN is one I will never forget,” he said. “As our speaker told us, there are very few rooms like it in the world, where so many wars have been pre-empted.”

In preparation for the National Model UN Conference, the team researched the political atmosphere and history of the region, in order to represent Bahrain as accurately as possible while serving as “diplomats” in New York City. As well as participating in four full days of committee proceedings, the team visited Bahrain’s Mission to the UN and met with the Bahraini staff. To the team’s delight, one of the diplomats participated in National Model United Nations several years prior and was eager to discuss his experience in the program compared to his current job as a real diplomat.

Although the experience of being in New York City itself was one of the greatest highlights of the trip, each team member agreed that the diplomacy and foreign policy-making skills they gained at the conference were highly valuable and will play a factor in any continued work they do with Model United Nations and their future careers.

For more information or to acquire photos of the team during the conference, visit the MMUN Team website at http://www.cas.umt.edu/mun/Traveling-Team, call incoming MMUN Team President Betsy Story at 406-223-9043 or email elizabeth.story@umontana.edu

Contact: Eric Hines, Montana Model UN faculty co-adviser, 406-243-2461, eric.hines@umontana.edu.