Model U.N. enriches students’ cultural and international experience

18 McDaniel students before getting on the bus to Harvard's Model UN in Boston.
February 26, 2013

McDaniel’s contingent of 18 students gathered in Boston recently at Harvard’s Model U.N. to discuss the greatest challenges facing the world today with more than 3,000 delegates from 300 colleges and universities in 48 countries.

Led by Political Science and International Studies professors Charles Neal and Anouar Boukhars, the students studied the foreign policy views of their assigned country, Colombia, in order to become empowered speakers debating and supporting their programs. Neal took his first group of McDaniel (then WMC) students to the Harvard Model U.N. more than three decades ago in 1980. 

“There is no other platform, other than an internship or job, that gives a political science college student the opportunity to put in practice the field's most crucial skills,” says Israel De La Cruz, a senior from Boston who shared McDaniel’s head delegate responsibilities with senior Megan Rogers.

“Participating in Model U.N. allows me to put five fundamental skills that I have acquired during my academic career to practice: research, public speaking, cooperative work, writing, and my personal favorite: debating.”

Breaks between U.N. sessions and discussions of such wide-ranging topics as international peace and security, economic and social progress and human rights gave the delegates time to experience the rich cultural diversity represented at the event and to explore Boston. While De La Cruz and Rogers were veterans of past Model U.N. gatherings, sophomore Kenneth Rankins was a newcomer.

All were thrilled to be among peers from literally dozens of different cultures.

“It was very fascinating to be on an elevator with multiple people who were talking to each other in different languages,” says Rankins, an Environmental Studies and Political Science and International Studies double major from Philadelphia.

Rogers of Ellicott City, Md., like her fellow McDaniel delegates, learned how to interact with those who have different cultural backgrounds and how to improve debate skills.

“The vast amount of countries a student at Model U.N. has the ability to interact
with is a learning experience within itself,” says Rogers, who is majoring in Political Science and International Studies. “You learn a lot about other countries and cultures and how to appropriately interact with those who differ from you. You also find out that in the grand scheme of things, you're not much different than others.

“On a lighter note, it was a great feeling walking around Boston as a diehard Ravens fan
knowing that your city won the ring this year, and that (New England Patriots coach) Bill Belichick and (Patriots quarterback) Tom Brady had to watch the game from home.”

Also attending the 2013 Harvard Model United Nations are freshmen Cole Harris of Timonium, Md., and Caroline Unger of Park Ridge, Ill.; sophomore Philip Wright of East Greenville, Pa.; juniors Phillip Farinella of Livingston, N.J. and Kat Dales of New Freedom, Pa.; and seniors Matthew Arnold of Ellicott City, Md.; Erica Brandenburg of Albuquerque; Travis Compton of Bellmore, N.Y.; Maria Fauconnet of Pasadena, Md.; Gary McKenna of Dix Hills, N.Y.; Noah Patton of Montgomery Village, Md.; Caitlin Roetheli of San Antonio, Texas; Emily Schaefer of Hampstead, Md.; Emily Smiley of Cockeysville, Md.; and Dagmar Vilimkova of Annapolis, Md.