February 29, 2012
IPO Sponsors IRC/Model UN Travel
Recently the International Programs Office (IPO) sponsored the International Relations Club (IRC) to attend the Model United Nations Assembly at McGill University in Montreal. Ranked the fourth most competitive conference, the third largest on the North American circuit, and the best in Canada, the McGill event has established itself as the standard for professionalism, provocative and substantive debate, and impeccable organization.
“One of the central missions of IPO is to open the door wider to international experiences for UMass students, so it was natural for us to reach out and provide support for IRC’s trip to Canada,” says Erika Schluntz, director of education abroad at IPO.
Their sponsorship allowed eight members of the IRC, including president Wendy Simon-Pearson ’12 (political science), to participate in the 4-day conference with 1800 students from many colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada. About 1300 of them served as mock UN delegates, and another 500 took on the role of UN staff members. Students were required to prepare position papers, debate issues, and reach resolutions while acting as part of an actual UN session. Among the topics addressed included the 1980 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the situation in Libya, and groups dealing with cyber-terrorism.
The Montreal conference marked Simon-Pearson’s eighth year of participation in Model UN, with the exception of last year when she spent two semesters studying Political Science and Chinese language abroad at Beijing University. The experience was amazing, and she’ll be heading back to China after graduation, having been offered a job in Tianjin, where she will be creating a Model UN curriculum to teach at a private, after-school extra-curricular facility.
“We all had a fantastic time in Montreal,” says Simon-Pearson. “McGill puts on a really good conference, and the simulations were very realistic. We didn't win any awards this time, but we did win the Outstanding Small Delegation award at the Columbia University conference in the fall (CMUNY).
“Our club hasn't been to an international Model UN conference in years, and we’re grateful to IPO for making it possible. It's important to not get stuck in the American bubble, and international conferences are fantastic at giving us an international perspective on world affairs."
The IRC/Model UN at UMass Amherst annually organizes and leads a model UN conference on campus, called UMassMUN, for high school model UN club participants. The next one will take place in Amherst March 16–18.
Two years ago the IRC was designated Outstanding RSO (registered student organization) of the year for having “fulfilled its mission and the mission of UMass Amherst by participating in continual community service, advocating and promoting campus and community leadership, showing efficiency in event planning, being a service to their student constituents and overall excellence.”
Read more about the International Relations Club/Model UN.
Students interested in joining the International Relations Club can email or join the IRC Facebook group. Meetings are held weekly, usually at 7pm, and anyone is welcome to attend! For questions or comments you can also contact the IRC’s publicity officer.