The UW Oshkosh Model United Nations team gathers outside the UN headquarters in Manhattan. The teams participating in the National MUN conference were welcomed into the UN’s General Assembly Hall for the event’s closing ceremony.
The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Model United Nations team continued its tradition of excellence last week at the National MUN conference in New York City.
The UW Oshkosh team took part in one of two National MUN (NMUN) conferences this month at the New York Hilton Midtown hotel in Manhattan. Twenty-one students spent April 4-7 taking part in the largest and longest-running simulation of UN negotiations with nearly 2,400 students from 138 schools around the world.
The UWO team was among those earning an Outstanding Delegation award, the highest team honor at the conference. UWO has participated in NMUN annually since 1985 and won an outstanding delegation in 39 consecutive conferences.
CeCe George-Pratt, a sophomore international studies major from Sun Prairie, and Emma Sullivan, a sophomore political science major from Wausau, also each earned an Outstanding Delegates in Committee award, as voted on by their peers.
“I was really shocked to find out that I received that award, but I was really proud of myself,” said Sullivan, who was returning for her second NMUN event. “That was the first time I’ve ever won that award, and it felt so rewarding to have my hard work with leading and preparing pay off in that way.”
George-Pratt and Sullivan were two of 14 students representing the African nation of Angola. The other seven students represented the small eastern African island nation of Seychelles.
Each member of each country delegation has a different area of expertise, dependent on which committee of the UN they are assigned. The goal in each committee is to reach consensus on a draft resolution, which means that delegates organize themselves into like-minded working groups early in the conference. Throughout the week, the groups attempt to craft a resolution all countries in their working group can support. Eventually, working groups attempt to merge their resolutions with those of other working groups in the committee. Student delegates distinguish themselves by knowing both the topic and the process, by facilitating inclusive conversations and by showcasing excellent negotiation skills.
Much of the 2023 team was getting their first experience with an event of this size. Just six of the 21 students were returning for a second time—the others were all newcomers.
“It was fun to watch this very young team quickly learn how to navigate the committee rooms at this conference, which is easily two times the size of the same conference last year,” said Tracy Slagter, political science professor and the MUN team’s faculty adviser. “There’s only so much you can ‘practice’ for a situation like this—sometimes you just need to dive into the deep end and swim, which is exactly what they did. Above all, I think that’s what Model UN forces students to do: to have confidence in their own knowledge and skills enough to be able to handle new situations and problems with ease.”
“The team performed so well,” Sullivan said. “I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but the first-years totally crushed it. I was blown away by their hard work, skill and knowledge. We could not have done this without their hard work, and I’m so proud to call them teammates and friends.”
In some ways, this year’s conference marked a return to normalcy after years of pandemic-related disruption and adjustments. The 2020 conference was canceled, 2021 was virtual and the 2022 edition that UWO attended was roughly half the size of this year’s. (With 168 member states or non-governmental organizations making up the UN, two conferences are held over back-to-back weeks with different schools participating.)
Over the course of two weeks, NMUN welcomes about 4,600 students and another 300 or so faculty for the two conferences. More than half of the participants come from outside the United States.
Before heading to Manhattan, the UWO MUN team participated in the Midwest MUN conference in St. Louis in late February. There the Titans were recognized with 10 delegate and six delegation-wide awards. The Midwest conference featured students from about 25 schools representing about 50 countries.
Those interested in joining the MUN team to build both lifelong friendships and valuable skills should contact Slagter at firstname.lastname@example.org or Angela Subulwa, director of international studies, at email@example.com.