Rowan Students Join Hundreds Around the World at First Virtual National Model United Nations Conference

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Rowan University's Student delegation, representing the Republic of Portugal in the model UN committee meeting. From left to right, Luke Pavlov, Kiah Benson, Sarah McClure, Sean French and Alex Rossen.- Photo via Rowan University International Studies Program

From Monday, April 5 to Thursday, April 8, Rowan University was one of over 126 universities worldwide to send student representatives to the official National Model United Nations (NMUN) Conference. 

Attendees at this conference had the opportunity to discuss and debate solutions for pressing global issues in a real-world context. In NMUN, college students apply their academic knowledge and critical thinking skills while simulating the work of diplomats in this large-scale experiential learning environment. 

The holding of NMUN conferences is significant to the United Nations, as they seek to support the next generation of global citizens and leaders. In his statement of support for this conference, UN Secretary-General António Guterres wrote “the world needs your energy, and I draw great hope from seeing your generation mobilize to address the challenges of our time and to build a healthier, more equitable and sustainable future for all.”

Rowan’s team collaborated with students from various universities from across America as well as several other countries to craft negotiated solutions to global issues. Each college delegation is randomly assigned a country to represent and is expected to represent that country’s positions on international matters accurately. For Rowan, that country was the Republic of Portugal.

The students on this delegation team were handpicked through an application process by Dr. Duke-Bryant, the international studies department chair, and each took on one of nine different committees within the United Nations. 

Freshman biology major Yug Yadava served as head delegate for Rowan University’s team, representing the Republic of Portugal.

“Being head delegate for the first-ever virtual summit for NMUN NY was very nerve-racking, and I truly did not know what to expect,” Yadava said. “But, the Delegation of Portugal did so well, and I was so proud going around the rooms to see how our preparation transitioned into multiple passed resolutions. To add, meeting other delegations from different universities allowed me to ask many questions and make relations so that Rowan has a few partners going into 2022. It was a pleasure being head delegate, and [I] could not have been part of a better team.”

Yadava also reflects on the fact that they were unable to go to the real UN building in New York City due to pandemic restrictions, but believes the virtual conference was still worthwile.

“The Model UN Conference took place virtual[ly] this year over Gatherly,” Yadava said. “Although there was some disappointment that we wouldn’t be able to go to NYC, the NMUN team did an excellent [job] to transform the experience on the online format, and it really felt we were still doing many of things that would have been done [in] person. I enjoyed being able to see how our preparation about Portugal’s stance on many issues came out when giving speeches and forming diplomatic resolutions with multiple other countries. But most of all, the amazing people that we met [were] the best part, and hopefully, we will be able to see many of them in 2022.”

The NMUN conference allowed students to engage in a wide variety of economic, social and political discourse pertaining to international diplomacy.

“The conference issues I have discussed are information and communication technology and financing for development with a specific focus on debt swaps and how economies worldwide can recover from debt,” Summaiya Ishrat, a junior liberal studies major with concentrations in philosophy and journalism, said. “I worked with delegations from Spain, Uzbekistan, Syria, Greece, Afghanistan and others on debt swaps paperwork and on a reported financial paper on how the current pandemic has affected economies and how they can recover. Due to the current pandemic, I think that the issue at hand is recovering from it, so the stance I took was to focus on how economies can recover by providing existing aid and funding programs so that developing and developed countries can avoid a substantial amount of debt and safely have a distribution of important resources and vaccination deliveries.”

“I was a part of the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons Committee (NPT), and the topics for the conference were peaceful uses of nuclear energy [and] I was strengthening measures towards general and complete disarmament,” Mike Revello, a junior political science major, said. “Unfortunately, our committee was unable to get to the second topic because of time constraints. Still, in regards to peaceful uses of nuclear [energy], I stressed Portugal’s concern for nuclear waste storage and the expansion of safeguards in the international system. Trying my best to represent Portugal’s stance on the topic, I stressed the need for better alternatives in disposing of toxic nuclear waste or improving upon the safety and zoning measures in nuclear waste disposal facilities. Thankfully, the delegations from the UAE and USA both had similar concerns, and we were able to work together and write clauses addressing the issues, which were implemented into a resolution that the committee passed.”

“I’m extremely proud of the work my peers and I achieved on the UNESCO committee. In any UN committee, there’s never a guarantee that even one resolution will get passed. But through compromise, alliance-building and teamwork, our committee was able to pass two. I had talked to peers who had been part of this conference six or more times before and had never seen that happen,” Alex Rossen, an international studies major, said.

Rowan’s performance on the UNESCO Committee earned them the peer award for outstanding delegation in a committee.

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