Model United Nations team wins big at New York City conference

By Kaitlyn McCormick

Rider’s Model United Nations team (MUN), representing Hungary, won outstanding delegation as well as three peer delegate awards at the National Model United Nations Conference in New York City this month.

Peer delegate awards were given to freshman political science major Christina Natoli and junior political science major Andrew Bernstein for their work on General Assembly First Committee, junior political science major Grace Kohansby and sophomore political science major Tray Ferguson for their work on United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Committee, as well as sophomore global studies major Paola Carlesso and junior political science major Devon Shaw for their work on the United Nations Women Committee.

This was the first time that Rider’s MUN team won three peer delegate awards, which are voted on by all of the delegates within the respective committee, breaking a team record.

Rider’s MUN adviser, political science professor Barbara Franz, explained the prestige of the team winning outstanding delegation.

“Every committee is judged by a dias, a dias consists out of three or four people that sit up there and watch what’s happening…every committee had to agree that Hungary deserves this award…so that’s why it’s so important that the team really works well together. Every single pair of those people did outstanding,” Franz said.

Rider’s MUN team hosted a debrief and teach-in on April 21 to share their recent successes and experiences with the Rider community.

Head delegate and senior political science major Ryan Leighton stressed the benefits of participating in MUN.

“MUN is a little notorious for its hard work ethic and its demanding curriculum. There’s a lot of research and writing,” Leighton explained in addition to negotiation and public speaking. “All of these skills that we teach you are vital for most jobs, and having something like MUN on a resume and proving that you have those skills and were taught them is really effective.”

Sophomore political science major Nina Weber explained how these negotiating and leadership skills elevated her performance within the conference.

“There’s so many delegates there, so there are a lot of conflicting views and you need to get over that hurdle and have everyone’s voices heard, no matter if you agree with it,” Weber said.

While many MUN students major in programs like political science or global studies, Rider MUN team members across many majors have benefitted from the experience and were able to integrate aspects of their course of study into their committee prep and competition.

Freshman vocal performance major Chris Simon said, “I was able to take some of my performance skills into MUN because I’ve done a lot of shows, I know how to act … but it was a challenge to really get through the research and lead a group more succinctly than normal … it was quite eye opening to see just how different it was and how big of an experience it was.”

The conference, held at the New York City Hilton Hotel from April 10-14 after previously taking place online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, saw competitors from schools across the country and across the globe.

Kohansby said, “Going from the online to the in person was…[a] really eye opening experience … you really miss out on a lot of the interpersonal communication you get with people if you’re online because there is that kind of like block between communication.”

Senior political science major Mark Immordino summed the conference up perfectly: “It’s four days that go by, it just kind of melts together…it’s the most unique experience you can ever do. It’s a test of your ability to act and be the best person you can be, and it was great. It was the best experience I’ve ever had.”

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