By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– When it comes to the Cal State San Bernardino Model United Nations program, success knows no borders.
While many students were on a four-day Thanksgiving holiday break Nov. 28-Dec. 1, six CSUSB students were overseas seeking solutions to global issues such as climate change and water-related disasters. And when they finished at the National Model United Nations-Korea conference, they had garnered several honors, including Outstanding Delegation, to bring home.
It was the first time the university sent a Model UN team abroad; it annually participates in the National Model UN Conference each spring in New York City, where out of the last 20 years, CSUSB students have earned 18 Outstanding Delegation awards, the highest recognition given at the conference that attracts universities and colleges from throughout the world.
And that was no different when the six students – representing Palestine and Iran in the diplomatic simulation – met with other teams in Songdo International City, a part of the great Seoul, South Korea, metropolitan area.
The team representing Palestine – Nicolette Davis, political science major; Kevin Gema, dual major in political science and economics; and Stephen El-Khatib, dual major in social science and Arabic language and culture – was awarded Outstanding Delegation. CSUSB was one of only seven universities from around the world to win the top award.
The team representing Iran – Mikael Erwin, philosophy major; Amanda Meere, social science graduate student; and Kristen Ramos, dual major in geography (global studies track) and psychology – was awarded Honorable Mention.
In addition, the CSUSB Iran team earned Outstanding Position Paper awards in all the committees in which its team members served, and the Palestinian delegation earned one out of the two committees on which it served.
According to Kevin Grisham, the CSUSB Model UN faculty adviser who accompanied the students on the trip, the CSUSB teams took home the most awards for a delegation, along with Georgia State University.
“For attending our first international Mode UN conference, the achievement by the students in committee was exceptional,” Grisham said. “What was more exceptional was the multitude of compliments the students and I received from faculty advisers and students from around the globe concerning the professionalism and preparation of the students. They operated as true ambassadors of our university and the Inland Empire community.”
The learning for the students was not confined to the conference setting, however. During their time in South Korea – from Nov. 24 to Dec. 1 – the teams joined other student delegates as they saw first-hand Korean culture and history during visits to ancient palaces and portions of Seoul and Incheon. ”In addition to the competition at the conference, students were bombarded with an environment of constant learning,” said Grisham, who is an assistant professor in the department of geography and environmental studies and also faculty adviser to the Model Arab League at CSUSB. “From meeting fellow students from around the world, to seeing the costs of ongoing conflict at the Demilitarized Zone that separates North and South Korea, to eating traditional Korean dishes, the turn of every corner in South Korea was a new experience. Each experience was a real-life reinforcement of the amazing education they receive at CSUSB.” They also visited with U.N. officials and others working on technology in promoting sustainable development and climate change. The six students were responsible for raising money through private donations to fund most of their trip. The Center for International Studies and Programs at CSUSB provided additional financial assistance. The center, along with the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, where the Model UN and Model Arab League program are housed, also helped with administrative support for the student delegates.
The program is not one to rest on its laurels, however. Students in both the Model UN and Model Arab League programs spent their winter break to begin preparations for not only the National Model UN conference in New York, but also for the National Model Arab League conference in Washington, D.C. To learn more about the Model United Nations program, visit the NMUN website <http://nmun.org/>, the National United Nations-Korea conference website <http://www.nmun.org/nmun_korea13.html>, and the CSUSB Model UN and Model Arab League website <http://modelunal.csusb.edu/>. To contribute to the CSUSB Model UN and Model Arab League programs, contact Grisham at firstname.lastname@example.org or (909) 537-7569; or Brent Hunter, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences director of development, at email@example.com or (909) 537-7363. For more information on Cal State San Bernardino, contact CSUSB’s Office of Public Affairs at (909) 537-5007 and visit news.csusb.edu.