By Linda Nguyen
Baylor students are actively applying their knowledge of politics and world organizations to simulations.
Seven students participated in the inaugural Howard Payne Model United Nations Security Council simulation this past weekend as part of Baylor United Nations. The conference was held at Howard Payne University in Brownwood.
Through the six students who competed, representing Rwanda, the Russian Federation and Togo, Baylor took home four awards.
Norcross, Ga., sophomore Laura Beth Hooper and Houston senior Ryan Hebert were selected as the most Outstanding Delegation. Hooper and Hebert represented the Russian Federation.
“They’re looking for your negotiating skills, their speaking skills, the way you interact with people at the conference and how you work together as a team,” Hooper said.
Laaron Backry and Freeburg, Ill., sophomore Matt Demond were given honorable mentions for Best Delegate for their representations of Togo and Rwanda respectively. Backry and Richmond freshman Vanessa Azodo were given an honorable mention for their policy memo representing Togo.
“There was a lot of preparation and work that went into it,” Demond said. “Everyone on the team was very well-prepared and confident when we finally went in.”
The seventh student, Rosebud senior Cagney McCauley, participated as a committee chair for the simulation. Committee chairs oversee the simulation and make decisions about awards for the delegates.
“It was different,” McCauley said. “I’ve always been sitting in the crowd looking up at the chair as the authority. The role reversal took a lot of getting used to. It helped me grow. I’m looking forward to applying what I learned to the conference in New York.” There will be a national Model UN conference in New York on March 23.
Out of the students who participated, only McCauley and Hooper had previously competed in a collegiate Model United Nations conference.
“I really love during a competition when everything comes together,” Hooper said. “It’s a very collaborative process and the process itself is meant to resemble the United Nations. It’s meant to show what it’s like to have a lot of people getting things done together.”
Rebecca Flavin, lecturer of political science and adviser of Baylor Model United Nations, said Model United Nations is an opportunity for students to simulate real-world organizations and contemporary international political issues.
“It was a security council simulation,” Flavin said. “You prepare with a basic set of facts and once you arrive, some kind of crisis breaks out. It requires the students to respond to emerging and changing events. It requires them to think on their feet.”
Hooper said her experience at the Security Council Simulation was unique because she and her partner represented the Russian Federation.
“It was particularly challenging to be Russia because it ended up Russia funded the attack,” Hooper said. “We were sort of the villains of the conference.”
The students said they had to put a lot of work and research into preparing for the conference.
“You have to really understand the background of the country: what’s happening, know what countries you’re working with,” said Ruth Anne Holiday, a member of the Model UN team who competed this weekend. “You have to know for example, Russia doesn’t necessarily partner with the U.S. You have to do more extensive research into the topic about what your country would do.”
Demond said he agreed that preparation for the conference was extensive, but it allowed the students to gain experience in key areas like public speaking and leadership.
He said participating in these conferences demonstrates their abilities to speak in public and ban people together to come to an agreement.
“You have to work with a large, diverse group of people,” Demond said.
Hooper said participating in Model UN and the conferences has helped her develop key interpersonal skills.
“For me personally, it’s taught me a lot of public speaking, given me a lot of confidence, the ability to interact with others,” Hooper said. “It’s definitely a lot of writing and research skills.”
Demond said some students may not understand why students are simulating political governing bodies, but he said it’s for relevant experience in the future.
“I would define it as a room full of students all coming together with the goal of high-level political discussion, advance public speaking skills and growing their leadership skills as well,” Demond said.
Baylor Model United Nations will compete at a national model United Nations conference March 23 in New York.