Teams of students from the Model United Nations student club at Montana State University won top awards at the Model United Nations of the Far West competition held recently in San Francisco.
Jenna Rhoads, a graduating senior in political science from Bozeman, was selected to speak in front of approximately 500 people at the opening plenary, or meeting attended by all MUNFW conference participants.
“This selection is the highest group honor awarded at the conference,” said Eric Raile, an assistant professor of political science at MSU and club adviser. The Department of Political Science is in the College of Letters and Science.
Raile explained that Rhoads spoke on behalf of a country represented by one of MSU’s three teams that attended the conference, which drew representatives from universities throughout the U.S. and the Philippines. Selection is based on the quality of written materials submitted prior to the conference including policy statements, resolutions and country profiles. Representatives from four countries, or teams, out of 80 addressed the opening plenary.
“Furthermore, all three countries represented by MSU students won diplomacy awards at the MUNFW conference,” Raile said. MSU teams represented the countries of Ethiopia, Hungary or the Philippines. “This is the second consecutive year our students have achieved this impressive feat.”
Raile said the honors capped off an outstanding year for the student group, which meets weekly to prepare for the model UN sessions. Last fall, Meed Geary, a political science major from Westcliffe, Colorado, won the award for outstanding delegate in the General Assembly of the Northwest Model United Nations conference in Seattle. His selection from more than 100 students was the highest honor awarded at that conference, Raile said.
Rhoads said speaking in front of the plenary in San Francisco was particularly significant for her. It was the third and final time Rhoads had attended a Model Nations Conference, which helped her develop skills in public speaking, resolution writing, and coalition building and collaboration.
“I continue to believe that these experiences have been fundamental in developing my skills as a student, such as my ability to collaborate with diverse groups,” Rhoads said. “These experiences have also enhanced my critical thinking skills and have allowed me to practice public speaking and different kinds of writing.”
Raile said the MSU Model United Nations has had strong interest from students since it was launched four years ago.
“I have seen the (Model UN) competitions serve as a personally transformative experience for students,” Raile said. “You can see students develop confidence. They often become much better public speakers and feel far more comfortable asserting themselves in groups after a single semester. Students tend to learn a lot about the uneasy relationship between negotiation and organizational efficiency and about their own abilities.”
Raile said MSU sent 22 delegates to the MUNFW this spring and nine to the NWMUN last fall.
The Model United Nations student club at MSU meets once a week during the academic year. Students practice speaking, writing and other skills at these meetings. They also research the positions of their countries on important international issues. Additionally, the Department of Political Science offers a Model United Nations course each spring semester that requires students to write policy statements and draft resolutions. They also practice speaking and negotiating in structured simulation activities.
Eric Raile (406) 994-5239, firstname.lastname@example.org