BC students take part in Model UN

Published 12:57 pm Wednesday, March 28, 2012

FOR THE FIRST TIME, a delegation of Bainbridge College students who will serve as mock delegates representing the tiny island republic of Nauru, will attend the Model UN in New York City on April 1-6. Those scheduled to attend are, from the left, front, Alyson Elam and Crystal Willis; back, Wes Potter, Blaine Edwards, Mack Lane and Dr. Dave Nelson, BC associate professor of history and faculty adviser for the Model UN.


BC Communications Specialist

Ever hear of Nauru?

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Well, five Bainbridge College students never had, until they were accepted into the Model United Nations (UN) program to be held in New York City on April 1-6.

Now they really know Nauru, an island republic that is one of the smallest nations on earth and has a population less than Bainbridge’s. And more importantly, the BC students will serve as that country’s “delegates,” during mock UN sessions, trying to convince such powerhouses as the United States and China, which will be represented by such stellar institutions as Oxford, Harvard, Yale and Princeton, that Nauru plays an important role in global affairs.

And when BC students Mack Lane from Bainbridge, Blaine Edwards from Pelham, Ga., Alyson Elam from Donalsonville, Ga., and Wes Potter and Crystal Willis, both from Whigham, Ga., return, they are hoping some of the more than 5,000 other college and university students will have heard of Bainbridge College, too.

“I’m going up to prove that Bainbridge College, even though small like Nauru, can stand shoulder to shoulder to the larger colleges and universities,” Lane said.

For the first time, BC will be represented at the prestigious program where students from all across the United States and five continents represent the world’s countries and use the actual United Nations building in New York City as its backdrop.

Edwards said he was looking forward to being in the UN complex and seeing the sites of New York, as well as participating in the conference. He also thought it was appropriate Bainbridge College students are representing Nauru, which is a very poor country located in the South Pacific Ocean near Australia.

Elam said she heard Edwards talking about the program last year.

“It just seemed like a great opportunity of things I could be involved with at the college besides just taking classes,” said Elam, who never heard of Nauru until the Model UN. Now she is well versed on the country and is drawing an arms treaty for the conference. In fact, Elam, a sophomore at BC who transferred from Texas Tech last year, said she is considering changing her major from English to foreign languages or political science because of her experience with Model UN. She is also looking forward to mingling with all the other students at the Model UN because, “They bring so many new ideas.”

Potter, who is the head delegate, jokingly said the appeal for the trip is politics and pizza, but then added, “I’m going to make an impact. I want to represent the college correctly, and I want to bring something back.”

Potter said the whole Model UN experience has enhanced his leadership, research, communications and time-management skills, despite the long hours that are in addition to his current study load. He said he also likes to write, and each position paper he has had to complete has further refined his writing skills.

The students have added at least 12 hours a week to their regular work load by researching Nauru, the UN and international issues, and then formulating position papers.

Willis said it will be a culture experience and a global experience for her without leaving the United States. For example, she’s looking forward to meeting delegates from other countries such as Germany and Japan who are scheduled to attend.

“It really gives you a sense of how other people are,” said Willis, who said she has already gained more confidence in her ability to meet people based on her earlier experience with a smaller version of Model UN in Atlanta.

Last November, Lane, Edwards, Potter, Willis and former BC student Meghan Vickers of Bainbridge attended the Southern Regional Model UN, where the BC students took the role of delegates representing Belize. Several of the draft resolutions proposed by BC students were passed by acclamation (unanimous decision). On top of that, on Jan. 16 and 17, the Model UN students briefly met with Belize Minister of Education Patrick Faber during his visit to the BC campus.

Each of the BC students are spending hours and hours of volunteer time researching and formulating position papers on such global issues as human trafficking and the rights of indigenous peoples. In contrast, students at larger colleges and universities get credit for participating in Model UN because it is an actual 3000-level class.

In Model UN, students step into the shoes of ambassadors from UN member states to debate current issues on the organization’s agenda. Students make speeches, prepare draft resolutions, negotiate with allies and adversaries, resolve conflicts, and navigate the conference rules of procedure — all in the interest of mobilizing “international cooperation” to resolve problems that affect countries all over the world.

Dr. Dave Nelson, BC associate professor of history and faculty adviser for the Model UN, said he wanted to pursue the Model UN program because it’s a good middle ground for enhancing the college’s international offerings. On one end of the spectrum, the college offers international programs on campus, such as the Taste of the Middle East coming up the week of April 9-13; and, on the other end are the opportunities students have to study or travel abroad, such as a recent trip to Scotland and earlier study-abroad trips to Belize where the college has a mutually supportive relationship with.