Student Org Spotlight: OU's Award-Winning Model UN Club
OU has so many student organizations, it can sometimes be overwhelming for students looking to get involved, and opportunities may get lost in the shuffle. But students of all majors interested in international careers shouldn't overlook University of Oklahoma Model United Nations, a chapter of the United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA) that was founded way back in 1958.
OU's Model UN (OUMUN) is one of the more active organizations on campus, hosting and attending conferences and bringing speakers to campus in collaboration with UNA-USA. "The main goals of OU's Model UN club are to spread awareness about the UN and to build students who are knowledgeable about important global issues and who have effective debating and public speaking skills," explains Emma Albrecht, senior International Studies major and president of OUMUN. "Last fall, we hosted an event with a speaker from UNA-USA to celebrate UN Day and raise awareness about the need for urgent climate action and the importance of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. In the future we're looking to expand our work with UNA-USA and host more UN-related events on campus."
The club's main event is the annual Midwest Model UN conference. Fifteen OUMUN students attended this year's event, held last month in St. Louis, MO. At Model UN conferences, students are assigned as pairs or individuals to various UN committees and work together to write UN resolutions that address global issues. "The committee sessions rotate between formal debate on [certain] topics and informal caucuses where you work in smaller groups with other students to write resolutions," Albrecht says. "It can be hard though, because everyone has to represent the point of view of the country they're representing; you can't let your personal opinion affect what you say."
This year's students served on the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Environmental Assembly, the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, and General Assemblies 1, 2 and 3. They represented the UK, Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Russia, and addressed topics ranging from the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo to international migration and development to combating illegal trade in wildlife. OU's students held their own, and list of award winners was as follows:
General Assembly Plenary, Honorable Mention: Dawit Leake, Nikola Dragicevic, Blessing Chirimbani and
Kristina Aleksanyan (representing the UK)
Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, Honorable Mention: Emily King (UK)
Economic and Social Council, Honorable Mention: Sidiki Ganame (Saudi Arabia)
Economic and Social Council Plenary, Outstanding Delegation: Sidiki Ganame (Saudi Arabia)
Security Council North, Outstanding Delegation: Emma Albrecht (UK)
Security Council North, Honorable Mention: Miguel Vazquez (South Africa)
In addition to attending the Midwest conference, the club also hosts two conferences of its own each year for younger model UN participants: one in the fall semester for middle school students, and one for high school students in the spring. "These conferences are a great success," Albrecht says. "It's very inspiring to see so many young people invested in the UN and international relations." Albrecht and other club leaders are also looking into fundraising options so that students can attend an additional conference this fall in Chicago.
Model UN offers good preparation for a career in diplomacy or politics, of course, but it also builds valuable skills like critical thinking and public speaking, which are useful in any field. "One of the things I like most about MUN is how much more confident it's made me," notes Albrecht. "My first conference, I was so nervous and barely spoke, but this year I felt comfortable speaking many times in front of my committee."
And though it's hard work, Model UN is also a lot of fun — and allows students to connect with like-minded classmates they might otherwise not have met. "I've made some of my closest friends at OU through MUN," says Albrecht. "I'm so glad I decided to join the club my freshman year."
OU students interested in joining Model UN are invited to attend the club's weekly meetings, which are held Mondays from 7:30-8:30 p.m. in Farzaneh Hall 150. OUMUN accepts students of all majors, and no prior model UN experience is required (many current members had no prior experience). Simply come with an open mind and interest in learning more about international relations and diplomacy!