Model United Nations Team Celebrates Record-Breaking Performance
The University of New Haven’s Model United Nations team earned more than a dozen awards during a recent virtual conference that brought together students from around the world to work together to address real-world global challenges.
December 2, 2020
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
Raymond Loftus ’21 recently had what he describes as one of the “most fun and best experiences” he has had so far as a student at the University of New Haven.
A member of the University’s Model United Nations (MUN) program, he and his classmates represented the University at NMUN•DC 2020, the National Model United Nations conference. Originally planned for Washington, D.C., the event was held online due to the coronavirus global pandemic.
Loftus and his fellow delegates worked together to develop solutions that could be implemented to solve real world challenges facing the global community. Because of his experience in the University’s Model UN program, he says he felt well prepared for the conference.
“The program teaches us how to form and lead a group,” said Loftus, a national security major. “It prepares us to handle the challenges that come with leading a group, and to create organization within chaos. The conference was a great opportunity to test our skills and our leadership, as well as our ability to handle stressful situations and adapt to changing environments.”
Loftus was one of 27 University of New Haven students who took part in the conference, representing the countries of Australia and Estonia on eight different United Nations committees throughout the three-day simulation. This year’s team raised the bar even higher for a program that has enjoyed great success at previous national and international conferences. They set a new University record, earning nine Outstanding Delegates in Committee Awards, three Outstanding Position Paper Awards, and two Outstanding Delegation Awards – the conference’s top honor.
“The greatest gift of all wasn’t the record haul of awards, or even the countless lessons learned and the many friendships formed,” said Chris Haynes, Ph.D., an associate professor of political science and
legal studies and director of the University’s MUN program. “What Virtual NMUN•DC 2020 gave us was a brief, but meaningful, respite from the challenges of life during COVID, and it was a reminder that there are better days to come.”
‘I realized what a great opportunity this was’
Students participated in the conference safely in the University’s Bergami Center for Science, Technology, and Innovation, wearing masks and practicing physical distancing. While preparing, delegates took part in simulations that involved debating, networking, and writing, while also developing their leadership skills.
“I had a strong feeling we were going to do well because of how much preparation we did before the conference,” said Nisha Patel ’22, a political science major. “I was ecstatic when I found out how well we had done as a team overall. I believe the conference was one of the best experiences I have had. I’m sure I will carry the skills and experience I’ve gained from Model UN into my career and for the rest of my life.”
Students form their own groups with other participants at the conference. Then they work together to write a paper that focuses on resolving a problem. It is an opportunity for them to meet other students from across the country and around the world for a variety of majors.
‘We learned how to circumvent challenges’
For Kathryn Donati ’23, the best part of being a member of the MUN program is that she says she has become more confident and developed her leadership skills. She was able to see how far she’d come while taking part in the conference.
“Dr. Haynes and the head delegates helped me get out of my comfort zone,” said Donati, a national security major. “By the end of the conference, I was ecstatic to be leading a group, and I enjoyed being able to speak to large groups of people I didn’t know. I realized what a great opportunity this was when I saw how the skills I developed in the program were apparent in my other classes.”
Held via the platform Gatherly, the virtual conference featured a crisis simulation and briefings by distinguished speakers in the Washington diplomatic community.
Loftus, the national security major, says although the format of the conference was different than had been originally planned, it was a meaningful and rewarding experience.
“The amount of fun someone can have in virtual conference is equal to that of an in-person event, even though the overall experience is, of course, very different,” he said. “At the virtual conference, we learned how to circumvent challenges and to solve them on our own. This is important, since virtual meeting and events will continue to be a key part of our lives.”
The University’s Model United Nations program is grateful for the generous support of Phil Bartels ’11 Hon. and Susan Bartels.