Students assume role of Belgium diplomats at UN simulation
Cal State L.A. delegates receive honorable mention, five awards at national conference
L-r: (top row, l-r) John Lopez, Fernando Trejo, Alejandro Hurtado, Karla Garzon, Keith Gallarzo (graduate assistant), Professor Emily Acevedo, (bottom row, l-r) Jamie McField, Jeronimo Garcia, Andrew Morales, Vanessa Reed, Alexander Speak, and Jazmine Jones.
Cal State L.A.’s 10-member delegation, which recently served as ambassadors for the Kingdom of Belgium at the annual National Model United Nations (NMUN) conference in New York, learned that there is more to Belgium than waffles and beer.
With diplomacy and professionalism, the group of CSULA students in the Political Science 420 course—who was awarded Honorable Mention at the conference—demonstrated that Belgium is a key player in global affairs. They also developed an appreciation of differing viewpoints, experienced the difficulty of negotiation, reaped the rewards of cooperation and gained a broader understanding of international relations.
“Only 28 universities out of 201, ranging from five to 32 students per country, were awarded in the delegation category,” said CSULA Emily Acevedo, professor of the course and faculty adviser for the CSULA MUN. “This is quite an achievement for our Cal State L.A. students as they impressively managed to engage and collaborate with incredibly large delegations of 192 countries with two students per committee.”
Pictured: CSULA team at the Permanent Mission of Belgium to the United Nations with First Secretary Tom Neijens (front center).
Additionally, five of the 11 committees CSULA represented were awarded “Outstanding Position Paper.” Acevedo explained, “This is also a great recognition because a very small number of delegates for each committee were honored with this award.”
The respective committees (and students) were recognized for their outstanding position papers:
General Assembly First – Andrew Morales
General Assembly Third – Karla Garzon, Alejandro Hurtado and Vanessa Reed
Human Rights Council – Alejandro Hurtado
Economic and Social Council Plenary – Jeronimo Garcia
Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty – Fernando Trejo
Other CSULA students who participated in the conference and the groups they served on included: John Lopez (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization Executive Board), Jamie McField (Commission on the Status of Women), Andrew Morales (General Assembly First Committee), Vanessa Reed (International Criminal Court), Alexander Speak (General Assembly Second Committee), and Jazmine Jones (Conference on Sustainable Development).
“This was an excellent way to progress one’s knowledge of the world and one’s ability to uncover solutions to modern day issues,” said Morales, who represented the General Assembly First Committee on the CSULA team. “Moreover, Model United Nations provides opportunities to learn more about oneself and possibly reveal untapped abilities, such as compromising with others, to further an agenda, and to speak publicly in front of a number of people.”
The NMUN conference—sponsored by the National Collegiate Conference Association—is an annual conference that challenges students to engage in a simulation of the United Nations (UN) with other colleges and universities as delegates of designated countries. This is the fourth consecutive year that CSULA has earned national accolades.
Founded in 1945 after World War II by 51 countries, the UN is an international organization committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.
Topics that were addressed at this year’s national conference ranged from “Measures to Prevent and Deter Cyberwarfare” to “Social Vulnerability as a Result of Climate Change.”
“Prior to the class, I thought that I had a pretty good grasp of what the UN did either from personal experience, news and reading, but by taking the class I realized that the UN is a lot more complex and involved,” said Jones, who represented CSULA’s Conference on Sustainable Development. “The class also helped me to understand the success that the UN has had as well as failures in different areas.”
Hurtado, who represented the CSULA Human Rights Council, echoed Jones’ sentiments. He added, “Model United Nations has been the best experience of my life, thus far. I would do it over and over again, if I had the chance.”
Belgium is located in Western Europe, bordered by the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, France, and the North Sea. Belgium is a hereditary constitutional monarchy. Brussels is the headquarters of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. (source: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2874.htm#profile)
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