The Charger Blog

Criminal Justice Major Reflects on ‘Gratifying Experience’ at Model United Nations Conference in Germany

For Shivani Patel ’21, recruitment director for the University’s Model United Nations program, MUN enabled her to network with students from around the world, step out of her comfort zone, and develop a sense of resilience and self-confidence.

January 3, 2020

By Shivani Patel ’21

Image of a group of students.
The University of New Haven’s Model United Nations delegates in Erfurt, Germany.

The University of New Haven’s Model United Nations (MUN) program recently took part in a very challenging, yet very successful, international MUN conference in Erfurt, Germany. We partook in numerous acts of diplomacy, negotiations, sleepless nights, and policy making, enabling all of the team members to undergo a tremendous amount of professional and personal growth.

MUN allows delegates to meet students from around the world who share similar ideas and interests in helping our world for the better. It’s a great example of how our generation is willing to make change to secure the future for generations to come. Even apart from the actual conference, in the midst of all of the stress and hard work, we create amazing bonds with the people we work with.

Image of Shivani Patel ’21 and peer.
Shivani Patel ’21 (left) and Keyri Ambrocio ’21 at the conference

At the Germany conference, our program represented delegations from Belgium and Japan. The conference itself was a melting pot, bringing together students from all over the globe, from the east and west coasts of America, to the continents of Africa, Europe, and Asia. Working together, we discussed some of the world’s most pressing issues. I represented the government of Belgium in the International Atomic Energy Agency, which dealt with matters pertaining to the use of nuclear energy and ensuring its peaceful application.

At the beginning of the conference, I rallied 13 delegates to form my working group. Throughout the week, however, I gained more student delegates, growing to a group of 25. As group leader, it was a challenge to keep everyone engaged, as I wanted to include everyone’s ideas and allow each member to contribute to our resolution. I also had to advocate for Belgium, making sure that the final draft did not conflict with the policies of Belgium’s government.

"After four semesters, I can see the sheer amount of growth I experienced to become the person I am today."Shivani Patel ’21

In the end, our working paper, which included 25 different policy proposals to help safeguard and verify nuclear energy, ended up passing, becoming a full resolution. I can tell you that there is nothing more gratifying than seeing your work be approved by the entire body at the conference.

At the end of the conference, our teams’ hard work paid off. My partner and I ended up winning the Best Delegate award, which is granted to us by our peers who voted and felt that we were the most diplomatic and kind. Our team representing Japan won Honorable Mention, and the group representing Belgium won Outstanding Delegation.

Image of a group of students with awards.
The group representing Belgium won Outstanding Delegation at the conference.

When someone mentions MUN to me, a plethora of words swarm inside my mind. Gratifying, challenging, stressful, and, most importantly, memorable. I will never forget such an enriching and humbling experience. This program pushes you out of your comfort zone and forces you to wake up to explore the world. We all come from different backgrounds, and our values and passions are expressed in the solutions we seek. Without MUN, I do not think I would have been able to develop as much as I have as a professional and, most importantly, a person.

It is a little heartbreaking to know this is the last conference that I will be a part of. After four semesters, I can see the sheer amount of growth I experienced to become the person I am today. If there is one takeaway that I will take from this journey it is that when you fall, the world does not stop turning for you. It will not wait for you to get up. You have to stand back up and keep going. The lesson of resilience and, more importantly, the confidence that I can be resilient, is something that I will take with me no matter what I do and where I work. I know it will serve me well.

I would like to thank our adviser, Dr. Chris Haynes, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Phil and Susan Bartels, for supporting this amazing opportunity and for encouraging me through it all. MUN is something that has opened a lot of doors for me, and I look forward to entering and embracing each and every one of them moving forward.