Students Represent Laos at Harvard’s National Model UN Conference

March 17, 2011

Rollins Model UN

The 2011 Rollins delegation represented the People's Democractic Republic of Laos.

For the fourth year in a row, Rollins students traveled to Boston to participate in the four-day Harvard National Model United Nations Conference (HNMUN). This year’s group, comprised of 11 students, spanned all four class years and represented a wide range of majors, including international relations, French and economics.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for our students to explore experiential learning with literally hundreds of the best and brightest students from around the globe,” noted Mike Gunter, associate professor of political science and Rollins’ Model United Nations (UN) adviser. “The conference offers stellar networking opportunities for our students and represents the essence of a pragmatic liberal arts education, allowing students to get a first-hand taste of the give-and-take in international diplomacy.”

Inviting over 3,000 students and faculty from colleges and universities around the world, HNMUN simulates the activities of the UN by offering a unique opportunity to experience the challenges of international negotiation and diplomacy. Throughout the conference, delegates work with other students in finding resolution of important global issues.

“HNMUN was one of the greatest experiences of my life,” said new member Dan Berlinger (Class of 2013). “I was able to meet people from around the world and discuss issues that were helping to shape the world. At HNMUN, I learned to become a better debater, to compromise when writing resolutions and to not take for granted what the UN accomplishes.”

Participating schools were each assigned a country and spent the late fall and early spring semesters preparing for mock sessions of all of the major UN committees, as well as several fictional ones. This year, Rollins was assigned the People’s Democratic Republic of Laos, a small communist country in Southeast Asia. Students had to not only become informed on the issues, but also be prepared to deal with challenges from the Laotian point of view.

“By immersing myself in another country and culture and forcing myself to think like someone else, I began to see myself as a truly global citizen,” said Ariane Rosen (Class of 2011). “It is our responsibility as the rising generation to break down stereotypes, open ourselves up to the world around us, and prepare to reach across borders to enact vital world change.”

The trip was possible thanks to significant support from the Office of the Provost, Dean of the Faculty and Dean of Student Affairs. The Office of Community Engagement and Office of Student Involvement & Leadership also offered much-appreciated assistance and advice for the group.

Rollins Model UN will have its next meeting in mid-March. This meeting will address elections for the officers for the coming academic year and an event for later this spring. Keep an eye out for an e-mail announcing the time and location if you would like to help build this growing student organization in the coming year.

Contributed by Associate Professor of Political Science Mike Gunter

Mike GunterAssociate Professor of Political Science Michael Gunter is a 2007-2010 Cornell Distinguished Faculty Scholar and was selected as a Fulbright Scholar for the U.S. State Department in 2007, targeting civil society and sustainable development at Univerzita Komenskeho in the Slovak Republic. The author of Building the Next Ark: How NGOs Work to Protect Biodiversity with Dartmouth College, Gunter teaches courses in international organization and international security as well as U.S. and global environmental politics. He also serves as director of the International Relations Program, as well as the adviser for the Washington Semester Program and Model U.N. student organization.

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