UCR’s Model United Nations (MUN) team was awarded “Distinguished Delegation” at National Model United Nations (NMUN) – New York during spring break. The award was only given to the top 5% delegations at the conference. This was the second year in a row that UCR MUN has won the award after attending the event for 11 years. Each delegation is given a country and committee that they need to research in order to represent accurately at the conference. At NMUN New York, UCR’s team represented Ukraine and the Dominican Republic in the Security Council. In November, the delegation also won “Outstanding Delegation” at the NMUN Washington, D.C. and Xi’an, China conferences.

The NMUN New York conference hosted over 1,500 and 3,000 students during each week respectively. According to the NMUN website, 42% of the participants at the conference were from the U.S. while 58% were international.

Among the members that were recognized at the conference was second-year political science and international affairs double major Merce Gerdes, who won a committee award for her leadership and communication skills while representing Ukraine in the UN Environmental Assembly.

Subham Barua, a first-year political science and economics double major and international student from Bangladesh, represented UCR at the UN General Assembly and spoke on “zero poverty,” one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. “When (people) talk about poverty, at least in the West, I don’t think they have seen what poverty actually looks like,” Barua said while explaining the topic of his speech.

This was the first year the UN held a General Debate where each attending university had a representative speak on a chosen topic in the Sustainable Development Goals. The goal was to listen to the youth’s perspectives on the issues. “If you do MUN at any capacity, your ultimate goal is speaking at the UN … As a first year, it’s a surreal experience speaking on the same platform as people of the likes of Barack Obama. I don’t think my prime minister has spoken (at the UN) yet; it’s a pretty huge experience,” Barua commented.

When Barua first applied to UCR, he knew the success of the UCR delegation and joined the club after the friendly atmosphere of the first meeting. “People have this impression that most of us are political science majors, that’s not actually true,” Barua said.

Although 25 members wanted to attend the conference, MUN could only send 16 members. To decide who would attend, each member had to submit a position paper detailing their country’s stance on an issue. Kyle Stafford, a second-year history and political science international affairs double major, helped the members prepare for New York by providing feedback on position papers. In addition to attending the general meetings, the group members attending the conference also met more than once a week to prepare for NMUN.

Barua credits the team’s success to its members. “The club (has a) professional atmosphere, but it’s (also) homely,” Barua began. “When people are explaining (and) teaching (other members) they are not doing it because they have to do it, they’re doing it because they care.”

In the 2000s, MUN at UCR had lost members and was not rechartered until 2010. Since then, the club has grown from 12 active members at the end of last year to 18 active members this year. This upcoming school year is also UCR MUN’s non-consecutive 50th year on campus. Since being rechartered, the club has increased their involvement in NMUN by attending the Washington, D.C. conference and the international conference in China both for the first time in November of 2018.

As current president of UCR MUN, Stafford hopes to host large high school conferences again this year like they have in past years.

UCR MUN is preparing for their upcoming NMUN conferences in Erfurt, Germany and Washington D.C. They have meetings from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays in INTS 1002 and Wednesdays in MSE 103.