Model UN team wins diplomacy awards in Taiwan

This spring break the GW Model United Nations delegation made their third-annual voyage to the World Model UN Conference, traveling the furthest the group has ever been for the event, to Taipei, Taiwan.

A team of six GW students made its way to the Asian country for the 2010 World Model UN Conference – a competition in which groups of students represent different countries and act as a make-shift UN, attempting to solve real issues facing the organization. The GW team served as the People’s Republic of China and took home four “Spirit Diplomacy” awards, the only awards given at World MUN.

The conference is hosted by Harvard University each year and always held in a different international city. Harvard undergraduates invite MUN delegations from universities around the world to send students to participate in the conference, and delegations register as early as October for the March conference to increase their chances of being assigned a desirable country to represent, said Alison Dieringer, MUN coordinator for GW’s International Affairs Society.

“To be chosen to attend World MUN as a delegate from the GWU team is very competitive,” Dieringer said in an e-mail. “There is an open application process advertised on the International Affairs Society [e-mail list] and from those applications the most experienced/highest performing delegates are chosen.”

The team sent the same number of students to participate in the World MUN competition this year as they did last year, when the conference was held in The Hague, Netherlands. In 2008 the group sent 12 students to the conference in Pueblo, Mexico.

Dieringer cited the high cost of participating in the overseas conference as a reason why fewer students have attended the past couple of years.

Each year the Student Association and Senior Vice President for Student and Academic Support Services Robert Chernak help the delegation defray the cost of the trip, Dieringer said.

Those who did have the chance to go to Taiwan said that the conference was a rich and rewarding experience.

“It’s definitely been one of the highlights of my time at GW,” said Geoffrey Louden, a member of GW’s MUN team.

Delegates were not only locked up in committee, working on generating solutions to world problems, but also got a chance to experience the sights and sounds of the host city. The group went on nightly cultural and social events, and had the opportunity to hear international leaders speak, including Taiwanese Head of State Ma Ying-jeou.

Although the conference only modeled issues that dominate world discourse in reality, delegates did have many opportunities to confront real world issues, including representing China at a conference held in Taiwan, a region administered by the Chinese government that lacks UN representation.

“The president of Taiwan came and spoke to us at the opening ceremonies and told a joke about Taiwan not having UN representation,” Louden said.

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