The value of diplomacy

Students at the Model UN conference (Andrea Barcenas/AQ)
Students at the Model UN conference (Andrea Barcenas/AQ)

Last week St. Thomas students travelled to Boston to participate in the Harvard National Model of United Nations conference.

“It gave me a chance to challenge myself,” said third-year student Arianne Melara. “Throughout the course, the professor always reminded us to be diplomatic, but I didn’t really realize how important it is to be diplomatic until I went there.”

The students were challenged to make working papers and resolutions.

Fourth-year student Amanda Poitras represented Ireland in the International Security and Disarming Committee.

“When you are surrounded by 280 people, everyone thinks their ideas are the best,” said Poitras. “That’s why it takes so long to come up with solutions where everyone would agree.”

Her group focused on civil war and border security.

Poitras said everyone had many good points to talk about, but it took a lot of cooperation to work together.

Even after working 10 hours per day for four days, they still couldn’t reach a consensus.

Poitras also learned how important political networking is when creating solutions in the United Nations. She said besides discussing within the sessions, it’s important who you talk to outside of the lectures.

Melara represented Ireland in the special Political and Decolonization Committee. They discussed the issue of drug trafficking.

She never expected she would talk publicly in front of more than 200 people.

“It gave me the opportunity to hear what other people propose and to make different points in a specific period of time,” she said.

At the end of the conference, Melara’s committee also failed to give a solution to the problem because none of the delegates decided which resolution was the best.

Melara and Poitras said it was competitive. This led people to be more innovative and motivated everyone to participate.

“I feel I have a clear idea now how the United Nations framework works and how different countries make decisions,” said Melara.

She said it taught her to be patient when surrounded by people who came from other countries and had different ideas, backgrounds and personalities.

Melara also said it’s important to learn how to conduct herself inside and outside the sessions.

She said her committee mainly sought to make STU noticed.

“I don’t think we were as competitive as other schools,” said Melara. “We went there without expecting to win an award. We just wanted to get our voice heard and participate.”

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