Students study and debate issues in Model United Nations

Winthrop University’s 37th Annual Model United Nations Conference was held March 20. Former Peace Corps volunteer Isaac Wohl was the keynote speaker that addressed the conference theme of “Globalization: Peace, Security and Development. Summersby Okey, the Secretary General, explains what occurred during the conference.

What exactly is Model U.N.?
Model U.N. is an international program for students of all ages. It invites students to represent one of the 193 member nations of the U.N. Once a student has received their country assignment, they learn everything they can about that one country and then debate as that country. The debates use formal rules of order. Winthrop is the only Model U.N. that uses Robert’s Rules of Order.

What is the Model U.N. class like?
There are three Model U.N. classes offered at Winthrop:
PLSC 260 is sort of like the intro to Model U.N. In this class students will meet in a smaller section on Mondays or Wednesdays and learn about the world through reading articles on international events and talking with other students who have similar countries to theirs. On Thursday nights, these students participate in debate and practice for the Model U.N. conference.

PLSC 261 is the leadership class of Model U.N. This is made up of students who took PLSC 260 the previous year and have a thorough understanding of the rules and procedures of Model U.N. They chair the debates at the conference and help to run the overall conference.

PLSC 362 is the collegiate Model U.N. These students represent Winthrop at other Model U.N. conferences around the South competing with other colleges from around the nations.

What happened at this year’s conference/what is a conference like?
I’m happy to say that I believe this year’s conference was a huge success. At the conference, high school students from North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia come to Winthrop to represent 65 nations in five different committees. These committees are Legal, Social and Humanitarian, Political and Security, Security Council and a Special Committee. This year’s Special Committee was the Summit of the Americas.

The college delegates are there to help guide and teach the high school students and help them in any way they may need guidance. Every year there is a “crisis situation,” which the high school delegates are asked to deal with. This year’s crisis was that a terrorist organization based in South America, but with cells all over the world, used biological warfare to release a strong and fast-spreading deadly virus around the world. It was up to the high school students to debate and come up with a resolution to deal with the crisis. It was a fun and enriching experience and I believe the high school and college delegates alike enjoyed the conference.

You are the secretary general of the Model U.N. program, what does that mean?
Each year the Model U.N. conference is planned and carried out by three students. These students fill the roles of Secretary General, Coordinator General and Director General, who are known as the “Big 3.” It is an immense task to take on and is truly a huge job. The students contact high schools around the area, invite them to the conference, assign them countries, and plan the entire conference. It was wonderful to be trusted to carry out such a huge task and it was even better to see that we did it successfully. Allie Briggs is this year’s Coordinator General, and Leonel Gonzalez is the Director General.

Why did you all choose the theme “Globalization: Peace, Security, and Development?”
We actually had a very hard time picking our theme. We wanted it to reflect what is going on in the world’s political climate today. After going through and deciding against many topics including environmental and defense concerns, we settled on “Globalization: Peace, Security, and Development. Globalization” is something that we, as the Big 3, recognized that we wanted to have as a theme which pertained to all U.N. member states, large and small. Globalization is a phenomenon, which affects all countries, so we thought it would be a unifying theme. Peace, Security and Development just naturally came out of globalization. We thought of the ways in which globalization may change the world, and those three topics seemed to be important.

What was the cultural event portion of the event about?
Each year the Model U.N. conference has a keynote speaker. This address is open to the public and counts as a cultural event. This year the keynote speaker was Isaac Wohl. We were especially glad to have Wohl since his father, Dr. David Wohl, is the Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts here at Winthrop. Wohl worked in the Peace Corps in Uganda, and was able to share about that with students. I think the high school and college students alike were able to relate to Wohl and were very interested in what he had to say. Wohl currently works as an International Trade Analyst at the World Bank, so he had some experience speaking about how Globalization can affect peace and security. The students loved to hear from him about what it is like to travel internationally, and I think he sparked an interest in the Peace Corps and study abroad in many students.

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