The Charger Blog

University’s Model United Nations Team Again Earns Top Honors

The University of New Haven’s MUN team earned the top team recognition, as well as Outstanding Delegate and Outstanding Position Paper awards at the National Model United Nations conference in Washington, D.C. The experience also enabled students to network and build their confidence.

November 16, 2021

By Aleksandros Spaho ’24 and Hawa Kane ’24

Group shot of students who traveled to washington D.C.
Students at the National Model United Nations conference in Washington, D.C.

The University of New Haven’s award-winning Model United Nations team continued its winning ways as it excelled at the recent National Model United Nations (MUN) conference in Washington, D.C. The Jamaica and Ireland teams earned the Outstanding Delegation award – the top team recognition – at the conference. Students also earned three Outstanding Delegate and two Outstanding Position Paper awards at the conference.

While in Washington, D.C., students also had the opportunity to meet and network with a dozen MUN alumni who now work in the area. They shared their experiences in the program, which has been generously supported by Phil Bartels ’11 Hon. and Susan Bartels, two of the University’s most generous benefactors.

Chris Haynes, Ph.D., a political science and national security professor and director of the University’s MUN program, says he was impressed by the “incredible transformations” he saw in the students and how much they have grown and developed their skills throughout the program. After returning from the conference, students discussed what they learned, such as writing, communication, and networking skills. Below, two of students reflect on their time in Washington, D.C., and their participation in MUN.

Aleksandros Spaho ’24

I have a sense of direction of where I want to take my major and what career I want to pursue. But I can’t pursue that career without the necessary skills. Choosing a career is one thing, and knowing the skills needed to be successful is another. That’s where Model United Nations came in.

The skills you develop in MUN are worth it. The program will teach you how to be a leader, how to be confident, and how to think critically, and it gets you out of your comfort zone. I am grateful to Professor Haynes for helping me create new skills and boost my existing skills to prepare me for not only conferences, but for the real world in general.

Don’t think of MUN as another class – it is very different. MUN is a place where you can network with all kinds of different people, including those who have graduated with national security/international affairs degrees and who are pursuing careers in those fields. Because of the many connections I have made through MUN, I feel twice as confident in my ability to build a career when I graduate. Professor Haynes will encourage you get out there and network, and I am happy my networking skills are developing.

KChris Haynes, Ph.D. (front, left), and students at the conference.
Chris Haynes, Ph.D. (front, left), and students at the conference.

In MUN, you’re also creating concept solutions for legitimate world problems. In what other class can you do that in? Creating solutions is very enjoyable, and taking your solutions to conferences and pitching your ideas, utilizing diplomacy and negotiation skills to work with other delegates to create a paper with multiple solutions to world problems, and developing relationships with other people is so immersive and exciting. You will learn how to be professional.

I am a pretty relaxed and not such an outgoing person. When you go to a conference, you’ll be thankful for all the simulations and skill-building you do during class. I had never participated in – let alone imagined – a conference of that size.

After all the simulations and tough days preparing, to be able to work hard and win Outstanding Delegation out of hundreds of different universities that participate in these conferences nationally and internationally, the feeling is like no other. Not only that, the amount of fun you’ll have during a conference is unlike anything else. I made so many friends and so many new connections.

You’ll be immersed in all the good memories you’ll make with new people, whether you are going out after the conference with the group you formed during the event, or you are going out with your classmates and having dinner together.

You get to walk out of MUN with your confidence at levels you never thought possible and with leadership skills that you can apply anywhere in life. You’ll be a better critical thinker than ever before, and your networking skills will allow you to connect with anyone you want to work with or talk to. If you’re unsure, take one semester and see how much fun an in-person conference is.

Hawa Kane ’24

Before joining the MUN program, I had done a lot of thinking about my career and what I needed to do to be successful. However, I was keenly aware of how underdeveloped my people and communication skills were, something I undoubtedly needed to excel in my future.

MUN caught my interest when Dr. Chris Haynes first talked to me about it during my first year, and it was definitely something I thought would benefit me in the long run – however, I underestimated just how much.

These past two semesters in the program have not only helped me develop my interpersonal skills both in and out of the classroom, but my experience encouraged me to develop skillsets I didn't even know I had. It helped me begin to finally see myself as a leader and to carry that mindset with me everywhere I go.

No matter how much we may have initially doubted ourselves, this program and the people leading it put so much trust in our capabilities to do great things that it became hard for us to not start believing in ourselves as well. The skills I was able to get out of Model UN are priceless. While I did learn the ins and outs of the United Nations, I believe that the most valuable lessons that I've been able to apply to my everyday life will stick with me forever.

Aleksandros Spaho ’24 and Hawa Kane ’24 are international affairs majors at the University of New Haven.