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News & Stories: 2009-10

Outstanding delegation from Calvin December 3, 2009

Calvin delegates to the Model UN work
Click image to enlarge.

“All government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue, and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter.” - Edmund Burke, Two Speeches on Conciliation with America

Various colleges and universities gathered in the Hilton Chicago on Nov. 20, 2009, checking in for a four-day Model United Nations conference. Among 1,500 students, five Calvin representatives made a name for themselves, bringing home three “Outstanding Delegation Awards.”

"My partner and I worked very well together and played our role exceptionally,” said Ben Verhulst, a junior at Calvin. Verhulst, along with his partner, junior Ana Stutler, received the “Outstanding Delegation Award” for their representation of the United Arab Republic on the Historical Security Council. This committee, one of six, simulated a past United Nations meeting from 1961.

"My favorite part was being able to role-play a country and in a time period very different from my own,” Stutler said. “I feel like it was a very demanding commission to be on, but we did our best and persisted, thank the Lord.”

Outstanding delegation

Students from these different schools spend four days addressing pressing international issues in various committees, writing up proposals and eventually submitting those proposals to the General Assembly for voting. Calvin, with a team of 17 students, was assigned the role of Egypt. They appeared on four of the six committees, receiving honors for three.

Sophomores Caleb Eom and Rebecca Larson received an “Outstanding Delegation Award” on the Economic Commission for Africa committee, and Rita Feikema, a senior, took home the award for her representation on the International Court of Justice.

Founded on compromise

The students were recognized for their ability to write proposals that other countries could agree upon. Proposals had to reach a consensus, not a majority vote, in order to be passed.

"As delegates from Egypt we had the unique opportunity to work with African member states and also Middle Eastern member states,” said Emily Daher, a Calvin junior who participated on the World Food Programme committee. “I learned how difficult it is to reach consensus among member states with different priorities, cultures, and interests.”

"It’s one thing to hear people, but it’s another thing to hear what they really want,” said Amy Patterson, department chair for political science at Calvin. As coach and professor to the Calvin team, Patterson prepared the students to research relevant topics, learn to compromise, write proposals and reports and eventually articulate their proposals to 1,500 other participants.

"Model UN has given me a new respect for the amount of difficulty in negotiating compromises in a world where states necessarily go after their own interests,” Verhulst said.

The Model UN delegation sent from Calvin
Click image to enlarge.

Join the club

Participating students at Calvin take Model UN as a course each fall. Though the class is a political science elective, other majors are welcomed and encouraged to join. Students may actually take the course twice while at Calvin, and about half of all first-year participants repeat do repeat the course.

There is also a Model UN club at Calvin, which participates in the spring in New York. Though students do not receive political science credit, there is no limit to how many times students may participate. “Everyone should try it!” Stutler said. “We're going to be doing it again in the spring. [Students] should join the club as it heads to NYC for our next MUN experience.”

~ Cloud Cray, communications and marketing

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