Suits, ties, high heels and diplomacy. That is the profile of the most award-winning team on campus. The Model United Nations (MUN) team and club hold more accolades than all Forty Niners sports teams and organizations. In the school year 2017-2018 alone, they won 19 prizes in several national and international conferences.
Model United Nations is an opportunity for students all over the world to participate in conferences and simulate international diplomacy. The issues of discussion vary but always model real political scenarios, and students must represent the country they are defending. The organization started at Harvard in the 1920s, when League of Nations was still the organ to be simulated. Today, Model United Nations receive support and encouragement from their parent organization, the United Nations. Delegates can win awards based on how they represent their countries and policies.
The president of UNC Charlotte’s Model UN club, Rania Hamdan, assures that all their awards are the result of a team effort and hard work to maintain the team’s reputation at every conference. Hamdan has participated in MUN for over three years and believes it’s an important academic and social opportunity. In an interview Hamdan said, “Model UN will develop your writing, public speaking, debate and diplomacy skills and push you in your academic career. But what I always tell people when they first join the club is no matter what it is that brought you here, you will stay for the people.”
For many, the social aspect of MUN is the most important. Members interact with people of every race, religion and socioeconomic class. The constant travel and group efforts create close friendships, says Hamdan.
Model UN is not only for those with experience; Hamdan believes that anyone who is interested in participating in the activity can achieve the greater goals. She says, “It is one of the most interdisciplinary clubs on campus in that we have students participate from all different majors and from freshmen to seniors. All that I tell new delegates when they join is that you get out what you put in. Students that are genuinely interested in understanding diplomacy and international relations, no matter what their background is, can find something in this club to enjoy.”
Mayra Moreno is one of the newer members of the 2019 Model UN club. She is a junior majoring in Criminal Justice and decided to join the club in order to leave her comfort zone and improve her public speaking skills. When asked about her experience so far, she says, “I was coming in with a blank slate and I found myself enjoying my experience so far with Model UN. It was intimidating at first, but the environment and vibes are great. I’m excited to see how much I will be able to grow with this opportunity that Model UN gives me.”
The UNC Charlotte Model UN Club will attend two conferences in Spring 2019. Some of its selected members will represent the school in the Harvard World MUN competition in Madrid, Spain. All club members that are interested will attend the South Regional Model United Nation (SRMUN) in Charlotte at the end of March.
UNC Charlotte has two forms of engagement with the Model UN team: the club and the classes. There are two courses on Model United Nations, introductory and advanced classes, that fulfill oral and written general education requirements and can even double as a Senior Seminar. The classes are held by Dr. Mary Jo Shepherd. The club is free for all to participate and meets every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in Friday room 123.