Students Represent Ouachita at Model United Nations Conference

March 9, 2023

By Camryn Manning, Staff Writer

March 9, 2023

Led By Dr. Kevin Brennan, seven Ouachita students traveled to St. Louis, Missouri to participate in the Midwest Model United Nations Conference, a mock conference simulating the real-world United Nations. Before the conference and during, students learned about how the UN works, about the countries they would be representing and how to advocate for their countries’ interests.

Four students from the group represented Sweden (Senior Caroline Derby, Junior Emilee Webb, Senior Noah Sanders, Senior Kathryn Totty) and three represented Indonesia (Junior Katie Henry, Senior Elise Hicks, Senior Sarah Spakes). “I was able to take a few more students than usual thanks to Frank Flynn, who has generously supported the university’s Model U. N. program,” Brennan said. 

Students in the group won multiple awards at the conference, both individual and group awards. “I am very pleased that all seven students received recognition individually and/or collectively,” Brennan said. “These awards truly show they performed extremely well.  Furthermore, almost all of our students that participate in Model U. N. are doing so for the first time.”

The Sweden delegation received the Distinguished Delegation award, and the Indonesia delegation received an Honorable Mention. “Ouachita walked away from the simulation with eight different awards,” Totty commented. “Dr. Brennan prepared us well for the content of the experience, but the simulation itself highlighted the value of preparation and research.”

Spakes explained how the resolutions at Model UN worked. “In committee, we worked with other delegates to create working papers, which is like a rough draft,” Spakes said. “These would become draft resolutions, a final draft. We collaborated with countries who had similar goals, came from a similar region of the world, had a similar economic background, or with whom we were allied in any capacity. We spoke to the committee and to the general assembly to gain support for our position and papers. We learned parliamentary procedure, living it out from 9am to 11pm.”

Totty was a member of the UN-Habitat committee representing the Sweden delegation. “We conducted a lot of research into our various committees, topics and respective countries’ interests,” Totty said. “Dr. Brennan structured the course in a way that set us up to succeed once in St. Louis. On the first day of class, I remember him telling us that we would become quasi-experts on our topics and interests of our countries, and I think that proved true through our work within our committees.”

Webb served on the General Assembly Third Committee, also known as the Social and Humanitarian Committee representing Sweden. “I was awarded Best Position Paper in the General Assembly Third Committee,” Webb said. “For this paper we write on an assigned topic, and about what our specific country we were representing would fight for. My paper covered the topics of Safe and Sustainable Transportation for the Achievement of SDG 3 and Indigenous Peoples’ rights under the Durban Declaration Programme of Action.” 

Also winning Best Position Paper in their respective committees were Derby (serving on the General Assembly First Committee), Henry (serving on the General Assembly First Committee) and Sanders (serving on the United Nations Environmental Assembly). 

Hicks and Sanders each received an Honorable Mention for individual work in their respective committees. “Succeeding at Model UN means working well with others, passing those resolutions and properly representing your country,” Sanders said. “It’s safe to say that we were shell-shocked after the first day, but by the end, every single one of the OBU delegates held their own and performed exceedingly well.”

As an enrolled class at Ouachita, the students have been working the entire academic year with Dr. Brennan to be prepared for the event. “We started the week after Tiger Tunes and we went all the way up until the actual conference,” Webb said. “Dr. Brennan really helped us research the topics we were assigned and in learning what would be needed, what our country’s needs would be and also learning how the Model UN was going to work in mock arguments and such. We are so thankful that he prepared us so well for this event.”

The class isn’t structured like a typical course. “Certainly, there is some lecture, but it is not the bulk of the class,” Brennan said. “Students have many assignments that are generally similar, but the specifics are different.  Though I have them write numerous article summaries, the articles mostly pertain to their topics.  Thus, the students are using these summaries to learn about different global problems.  Those on the First Committee were mostly learning about issues of international security, whereas those on the UNEA were primarily doing research on environmental issues.  The students wrote many other papers, such as position papers, resolutions and one paper about past treaties and U. N. resolutions relevant to their respective topics.”

In class, I also had them give short speeches to prepare them for what they would do in St. Louis.  We also had some mock simulations, which were also geared toward getting them ready for what they would do in St. Louis.”

The students left the conference with lasting lessons. “I learned how to collaborate with others very well,” Webb said. “We got into groups called caucuses, where we had many different ideas floating around while working together to create one final resolution. It was fun to work together to create one final product to accomplish everything we wanted to accomplish all in one resolution.” 

Spakes returned to Ouachita with a better understanding of teamwork and how the United Nations works. “I learned how to work with people who have different goals than me,” Spakes said. “I learned about the UN process, which affects the citizens of 193 countries, and I learned about people.”

“I learned a lot about the diplomatic process working alongside people I had known for only a short time,” Sanders said. “We developed mutual respect, and I grew a ton in my extemporaneous public speaking ability, giving floor speeches in committee on the fly or writing a quick speech to give in front of nearly 300 people.”

Totty also learned much from her time at the conference. “Model UN taught me not only a lot about how diplomatic relations exist within the United Nations sphere, but also a lot about myself and my ability to represent the interest of those I am representing,” Totty said. “I learned a lot about the formal procedures of the UN, while also becoming more confident in my extemporaneous public speaking skills.”

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