All posts by Fred Arnold

SPC’s Model United Nations Team: A Diverse Delegation #SPCInspires

Model United Nations team members

St. Petersburg College’s Model United Nations team was honored as an Outstanding Delegation at the National Model United Nations (NMUN) conference in New York.

Outstanding Delegation is the highest award given at the New York conference, which hosted more than 3,000 delegates this year, and puts SPC’s Model UN team in the top 10 percent of teams in the world.

A total of 16 St. Petersburg College students, including Early College and international students, participated in the week-long conference. Two students, Dragana Mitric and Kayla Li, also received awards for Outstanding Position Papers.

The NMUN extends across the world. Fifty-seven percent of students who participate are not U.S. residents, which ensures an opportunity for students to gain cultural perspective within a delegation process that helps shape students’ career aspirations and, potentially, global policy.

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“The diversity in our team helped us succeed,” said Li, an Early College student in her senior year. “Part of the conference includes being able to come up with strategies that all countries can compromise and agree upon, so being aware of different viewpoints is crucial to being able to come up with the best plan.”

St. Petersburg College’s Model United Nations team included students representing many different ethnicities and academic programs.

“Diversity helped, as our team at SPC was able to connect with students from other countries to develop our ideas,” said Christopher Duggan, who is working towards his Associate in Arts degree at St. Petersburg College and plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy.

SPC’s Model UN represented the small country of Luxembourg, and each student was assigned to specific committees to discuss problems and resolutions. The delegates research their assigned country’s history, politics and finances. They are also required to remain in character during the entire delegation process and are graded on how well they perform.

“We are expected to represent the ideals and policies of our country in all of our actions,” Li said. “If we agree with a paper or an idea, it is because our country would agree with the paper or idea.”

The SPC committees tackled difficult subjects, from cyber security to efforts to control weapons of mass destruction. Students said the hands-on activities and lessons in teamwork were especially valuable.

“I learned that if you take the time to walk around, listen to everyone in your committee and contribute to their work, it will be to your benefit,” Duggan said. “Often, the other delegations will feed off of your energy and will yearn to work with your country’s delegation.”

In addition to experiences provided by the conference, students were able to explore New York City – a first for many of them.

“I had never ridden a subway before, and it was interesting to see so many talented artists playing their music,” Li said. They visited the Empire State Building and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and sat in the same chairs that world leaders do at the United Nations headquarters.

They visited the Empire State Building and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and sat in the same chairs that world leaders do at the United Nations headquarters.

The Model UN initiative at St. Petrsburg College places strong emphasis on research and experiential learning. Students gain critical thinking skills and knowledge about international organizations, processes for conflict resolution and insight into how countries diplomatically engage one another. Over the last several years, St. Petersburg College has gained worldwide recognition for its Model UN program, which competes against large four-year universities, including Ivy League schools.

Model UN students gain invaluable leadership experience that helps them in their careers and other future endeavors, said Roy Slater, Professor of Social Science and mentor to the Model UN at SPC.

“We certainly have seen the Model UN impact in shaping student perspectives of the world as well as the work that they would like to engage in after St. Petersburg College,” Slater said. “Many students share how much this experience has changed their lives.”