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After participating last spring for the first time in many years, the International Affairs Club is enthusiastically awaiting the next National Model United Nations (NMUN) conference, the world’s largest university-level simulation of the United Nations.

Held in New York City, the event annually educates more than 3,000 students — 40% from outside the U.S. — about the United Nations and other contemporary international issues. The next simulation will take place March 22-26.

Last semester’s Lafayette delegation represented Sri Lanka. Previously, the International Affairs Club had participated in the European Union (EU) Simulation in Washington, D.C., winning individual awards despite being the only group not coming as a specific class.

“This year it was different because Katalin Fabian [assistant professor of government and law] began to teach a class on the EU and decided the simulation would provide her students with a real, hands-on experience with the workings and procedures of the EU,” says Basar Eraksoy ’06 (Istanbul, Turkey), treasurer of the International Affairs Club.

As a result, students in the club chose NMUN as an alternative.

“It’s needless to say that this conference is the largest and most prestigious university-level MUN conference in the United States and perhaps in the word as well,” Eraksoy says.

Each student was a representative for a specific committee within the United Nations, and throughout the three-day conference each “country” got together in these committees to hold meetings and draft resolutions.

Martha Osier ’06 (Nairobi, Kenya), a double major in economics & business and international affairs, and Shreedhar Sasikumar ’05 (Trivandum, India), an economics and business major, represented the International Atomic Energy Agency. They prepared a position paper, which supported efforts to take action against North Korea and its nuclear program in the committee’s quest to ensure a stable future for the world.

“I enjoyed the high level of enthusiasm and dedication the delegates expressed,” Osier says. “Most delegates displayed thorough knowledge of their nation’s foreign polices and supported causes that went along with their beliefs.”

Sanda Wijeratne ’06 (Mount Lavinia, Sri Lanka), an international affairs major, was part of the General Assembly Plenary Committee and had to prepare for the issue of international migration and development, establishment of nuclear-free zones, and financing and development.

“Being in the very place that resolutions affecting the world get passed, and voting in the same way that nations make themselves heard in reality, was one of the most memorable experiences of the conference,” she says.

Eraksoy believes the conference taught students the importance of cooperation and keeping an open mind about the different perspectives that each country may bring to the table.

“No country can pass legislation just by leveraging its economic and political clout because in the committees and the General Assembly, each country has only one vote,” he explains. “This necessitates finding a compromise between two views on an issue and helps everyone voice their concerns about certain parts in the resolution.”

Categorized in: Academic News