During their visit to New York as part of the annual Model United Nations (MUN) Conference, UC Riverside’s MUN Club earned numerous awards including the prestigious “Outstanding Delegation” award. The conference, which is the largest MUN conference of its kind, unites more than five thousand worldwide participants for a week of rigorous negotiations, debates and mediation between delegates.

“I was very excited to hear that our MUN team won ‘Outstanding Delegation’ because we are a student-run organization, while other delegations are classes and have full-time Ph.D. professors preparing them for this conference,” stated UC Riverside student Cesar Toledo in an interview with the Highlander.  Toledo noted that this year’s conference marked the fourth year that the MUN Club has received the “Outstanding Delegation” award.  “All the extra research (added to the usual bout of stress of finals week), sleepless nights throughout the actual conference, and long hours spent pouring over resolutions papers paid off at that moment when the director announced our name,” stated Jessica Cobain, a third-year political science student who served on the general assembly.

UC Riverside’s team of 17 students, two head delegates and one advisor were tasked with representing the Union of Comoros and the Gabonese Republic. Meanwhile, smaller groups of students were part of committees ranging from the Security Council to the Organization for Islamic Cooperation. For their work on these committees, UC Riverside students were awarded five “Outstanding Position Paper” awards; Almario Javier, Jessica Cobain, Pamela Anguiano, Mekbeb Hagos, Christopher Seeling, Crystal Navarrete, Ahmad Takouche, Daniel Naim and Agnes Nazarian were students that received such awards.

MUN students engage in hours of collaborative efforts and research in order to formulate solutions to global problems. This year, the conference featured themes such as poverty eradication, illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in Africa and sustainable development. Representing the Union of Comoros, a small island nation off the southeast coast of Africa, posed its own unique obstacles for UC Riverside’s MUN Club. Cobain explained that her team had to put forward a great deal of effort to gain recognition for their small nation’s contributions to issues such as water resource management, micro-financing and intellectual property rights.

The consensus among MUN members was that the New York Conference was a highly rewarding experience, even for veteran students who have been MUN members for numerous years. “Through this experience, it not only helped me improve my skills but I also learned more about myself. When [serving in my] committee, I was even surprised at myself because I did not know I had the ability to carry out certain challenges,” stated Crystal Navarette in an interview with the Highlander. “When I started to first attend MUN last fall, I was a shy, reserved person and did not speak much. But after attending various conferences, my public speaking was improving and [I] learned to think more on my feet.”

The conference also held special challenges for students such as Agnes Nazarian, who was the sole member of the Commission on the Status of Women. “Although this was my third national MUN conference, I went into committee as a single delegate which was very nerve racking…Winning the ‘Outstanding Position Paper’ award for my committee made me feel accomplished and felt like all the hard work had paid off,” said Nazarian.