St. Petersburg College’s Model UN team traveled to Washington, DC from November 7 to November 11 to compete at the 2019 National Model UN DC conference. The team won the Outstanding Delegation award, which is the highest team award at the conference. To receive this award, a team must place in the top 3 percent. This victory comes on the heels of the team’s victory last week at the WIMUN conference in Geneva, Switzerland.
As you can imagine, MUN Faculty are beyond proud of these students. The team traveled with Dr. Randy Lightfoot, Professor of American Government at Tarpon Springs, and Dr. William Fleming, Professor of Economics at St. Pete Gibbs.
The team represented the Lebanese Republic and was led by Head Delegates Ashley Rutenbeck and Catherine Tomczyk. The competition involved simulating several agencies, such as the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA) as well as several UN organs (First and Fourth Committee of the General Assembly). Carson Gordon and Isabel Arnez participated in the FAO committee. This committee dealt with topics ranging from climate change’s impact on food security to capacity building for low-income food deficit countries. Mikayla Stott and Ashley Rutenbeck represented Lebanon in the UNHCR committee. As the UN’s major agency in dealing with refugees around the world, Mikayla and Ashley worked to find long-term answers to the economic displacement of refugees. Catherine Tomcyzk and Canyon Dike were involved in the UNEA committee. This committee was responsible with finding solutions to marine plastic pollution and illegal whaling. Nassim Bentarka and Evan Fergenbaum were in GA 4 and this committee dealt with the controversial topic of Israeli political settlements in Palestinian territory. Finally, Frank Yurek and Nile Nickel Jordan represented Lebanon in GA 1 and they wrestled nuclear proliferation, one of the most important international issues today.
The students also had the opportunity to engage in a variety of educational excursions. They visited the office of Congressman Gus Bilirakis, several museums in DC and had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the Embassy of Lebanon. Mr. Kamal Yakteen, who leads the staff at the embassy, provided a wide array of educational resources to our students. These included Lebanon’s stance on UN sustainable goals, land border regiments, refugees, WMD’s, the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and much more. Finally, the students had the wonderful opportunity of meeting with Ambassador Gabriel Issa, who is Lebanon’s US ambassador. Interestingly enough, Ambassador Issa previously lived in the state of Michigan and owned several businesses in the area.
Ultimately, this MUN trip was another amazing educational experience for our students. They were able to continue to develop their writing, diplomacy and public speaking skills and participate in a variety of unique educational excursions. MUN Faculty members Kim Jackson, Randy Lightfoot, Bledar Prifti, Roberto Loureiro, William Fleming, Gyldas Othamot and myself, Douglas Rivero, remain extremely honored and proud of the students’ hard work and continued victories. We look forward to working with MUN students next semester. On to New York!