February 27, 2017
Communications and Marketing
From left, Clare Robbins, Erica Hudson, Andrew Shue, Arya Thapa, Nicholas Meissner, Alexandros Pandazis, Emily Provencher, and Sarrah Chouiakh
Eight students from Saint Anselm's International Relations Club represented Slovenia at the Harvard National Model United Nations on February 16 - 19 at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel in Boston, Mass. There were more than 3,000 delegates from around the world gathered for the Model UN's 63rd annual conference, which boasts the title of oldest, largest, and most diverse student-run Model UN conference in the world.
Throughout the weekend, the Saint Anselm students practiced their skills in debating, public speaking, and compromise. The group first received a briefing on Slovenia's current position and interests before attending committee sessions so that they could address issues and proposals through their country's lens.
Breaking into groups of two, the Saint Anselm students joined four committees discussing issues such as international security, health policy, and humanitarian aid, with each choosing two topics for debate by delegates. Next, unmoderated caucuses where delegates discussed clauses or resolutions they wanted passed were held. Lastly, delegates created working papers which could be voted on as a resolution.
Each Saint Anselm two-person team hoped to discuss one or two main resolutions pertinent to Slovenia during their committee sessions. For example, Arya Thapa, a senior international relations major, and her co-delegate Alexandros Pandaiz, a freshman politics major, spoke up in front of 100 or so other delegates several times for or against several motions on the topic of weaponization of social media.
"It was interesting because we learned that Slovenia did not fully trust Russia or China," said Thapa. "So before even breaking off to work on draft resolutions, we knew that we had to make a resolution with other countries that valued democratic principles like us."
Participant Andrew Shue, a politics major and history minor, noted that he experienced first-hand the challenges of compromise and diplomacy. It was very difficult to earn the 46 votes necessary to pass a resolution in a committee made up of different countries with individual interests. "It is a hard skill to include other people while keeping true to your own ideas," he said. "That is politics."
Thapa, who is president of the International Relations club, said that her experience was vital to understanding the function of the UN. "We learned a lot about international organizations," she said. "It plays directly into what you learn in the classroom."
Participants in the conference also socialized with other college students from around the world. Both Thapa and Shue noted how much they enjoyed this aspect of the experience. Shue made fast friends with a student from Montréal, Canada, and feels that "it is the connections you make that make you want to go back."
After the success of this year's trip, the students are hopeful that the IR club can attend the conference again next year.
Story by Christine Balquist '17