If their performance at this summer’s European International Model United Nation’s Conference is any indication, we may eventually see several West Virginia University students successfully navigating the halls of the UN.
WVU’s six-person delegation to the event at The Hague brought back five awards. The event included 250 other participants from 70 different countries.
“The students’ performance speaks volumes about them and the education they’ve received at WVU,” said Dean of Students Corey Farris. “They showed that they can compete internationally with top students from around the world, and they can compete quite successfully.”
The Conference, held each summer, teaches students about the workings of international organizations, such as the United Nations, and what it is like to represent a country and defend its foreign policy.
Only 24 participants received an award – either as an outstanding or honorable mention delegate.
One WVU student, Franklin Roberts, a sophomore political science major from Charleston, earned a top award – best delegate in the North Atlantic Council representing Greece.
“I took an active part in every debate, always representing my country’s interests and attempting to broker compromise wherever possible,” Roberts said.
Students were tasked with researching and representing different countries. They also produced a position paper on a particular topic.
But for Roberts, the trip meant more than just coming home with an award.
“The defining moment of this trip for me was an event called the Global Village,” he said. “For this event, the conference participants were all encouraged to bring items that represented their home countries. Music from all over the world was played, including our very own ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads.’
“There was great food, great people, and the whole thing was an amazing demonstration of how diverse our world’s cultures really are,” he said.
Other WVU students recognized for outstanding performance were:
• Adam Christian, sophomore biology major from Daniels, honorable mention in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) representing Australia
• Sarah Lilly, sophomore international studies, Latin American studies and political science triple-major from Independence, honorable mention in the North Atlantic Council representing Canada
• Caleb Shaw, sophomore Chinese studies and international studies double-major from Milton, honorable mention in the European Council representing Croatia
• Spenser Wempe, sophomore international studies major from Charles Town, honorable mention in UNESCO representing Finland
Also attending the Conference was Dara Erazo, sophomore geography and international studies double-major from Daniels.
Wempe, a former Miss West Virginia, tweeted about the team’s experience throughout the trip @SpenserWempe.
In one tweet, she wrote, “In the delegate workshop this morning it was bizarre to have only our six hands go up when asking who was American.”
Despite feeling like outsiders for a moment, the WVU students blended in perfectly with their international brethren. On the last day at the Conference, Wempe tweeted about having lunch with folks from India, France, Switzerland, Italy and Honduras. On one evening, a newfound friend from India cooked the students dinner.
“Love having great friends from all over the world,” Wempe wrote.
One of the main purposes of WVU’s participation in the Conference is to provide undergraduate students with little or no overseas travel experience an opportunity to participate in a WVU-guided program.
Farris and Clarissa Estep, teaching assistant professor in political science and multidisciplinary studies, accompanied the students. Farris credited Estep’s teaching in helping prepare the students for the Conference.
“When you consider there were 250 participants, and five of 24 awards went to WVU students, that shows we’re on par with students from around the world,” Farris said. “They represented the United States and the state of West Virginia very well.”
Roberts said the Conference has convinced him to study abroad.
“After attending this conference, I have seen how valuable it is to learn foreign languages,” he said. “Many students spoke three or more languages, and were able to converse with almost everyone else. I, however, would have been completely lost had everyone not been fluent English. I had considered studying abroad before, but after this experience I am certain that I will study abroad later in my college career, most likely in Argentina or Spain.”
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