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Driven by the goal of being as prepared as possible for the Harvard National Model United Nations, a group of Lafayette students has decided to form a Model UN Club. The organized was approved by Student Government last month.

Beginning this fall, these students, many of whom participated in this year’s simulation at Harvard University in February, will hold regular meetings to discuss international affairs and their role in the 2006 conference.

In the past, students who participated in such a simulation, which replicates the way the United Nations holds summits, sought training for the event through unofficial channels.

“One of the great things I love about Lafayette, especially with the international affairs major, is the very broad range of courses offered,” says conference attendee Ryan Beattie ’05 (Worthington, Mass.). “I’ve taken courses ranging from economics to international affairs. At the simulation, my committee was asked to focus on creating a resolution on nuclear disarmament, which is just one of the many subjects we’ve been exposed to here.”

Marquis Scholar Diana Galperin ’08 (Warminster, Pa.), who also participated in the simulation and drafted the UN Club’s constitution, says the group will have a variety of functions.

“We’ll meet throughout the entire year and research the country we’ve been assigned to represent at the conference, throw ideas off each other, practice speaking and using the parliamentary procedures as it is done at the actual simulation, and organize the trip,” Galperin says.

This school year, most of this work was done through the International Affairs Club, but because the simulation requires so much preparation, little time was left for International Affairs Club members to do anything else.

“When we discussed forming a separate club, we talked a lot about the International Affairs Club being able to do their own things,” Galperin says. “But we still wanted to go, so that made us decide that there should be two different clubs.”

Beattie drew on skills he’s acquired at Lafayette at the simulation, where he took on and defended the viewpoints of Vietnam.

“More than anything else, I used communication skills,” he says. “A lot of the conversation that goes on in the committee is moderated — if you want to speak, you have to raise your hand and wait to be called on to speak. We formed caucuses and met in the hallways when committee work was going on, and even at night, people would go out for a drink and talk about what was going on. Having clear communication skills was critical to understanding other people’s points of view.”

The critical thinking skills Beattie has learned through the classes he’s taken to achieve a double major in international affairs and Spanish also were beneficial.

“Analytic skills are very important for the conference,” he says. “You have to be able to look at the right solution for the country you’re representing and analyze things from the perspectives of other countries. It can be difficult to not represent your own personal views.”

Galperin, who hopes to double major in international affairs and French, says developing these skills will be fundamental to Lafayette’s club.

“Definitely a big part of the club will be keeping up to date on the country we’ve been assigned, the countries around it, and any countries that have alliances with it,” she says. “At the simulation, you want to be able to know how your country would act. Obviously if you have problems with certain countries you wouldn’t want to cooperate with them. We have to be very up to date with what is going on, even up to the day of the actual conference.”

Club organizers hope that by forming a group separate from the International Affairs Club, participation in next year’s Model UN Simulation will increase.

“Overall, the conference was a great experience and we’d love to have more students involved,” Galperin says. “A lot of people participated in United Nations simulations in high school and people I’ve talked to on campus have said they would like to again

participate, but didn’t even know we had a contingent because it was under the International Affairs Club.”

Categorized in: Academic News