Diplomacy and compromise are foundational skills for students participating in a Model United Nations conference. Austin College students’ long record of success at those conferences indicates they have those skills down. During the Thanksgiving holidays, students put their skills to the test at the International Model United Nations conference in the Czech Republic.
The 16 student delegates and Philip Barker, assistant professor of political science, left Austin College on November 18 to travel to Prague, Czech Republic, where they spent a few days before traveling on to the conference site on November 22. Students visited nearby Auschwitz and Plaszow (Krakow) concentration camps in Poland as part of the conference emphasis on experiencing the culture and history of the Czech Republic. The Austin College students spent one day in Vienna, Austria, after the conference, returning to campus on November 28 with outstanding awards for both delegations as well as committee honors for individual students.
For more than 25 years, Austin College delegations consistently have earned top honors for their conference representation. Students participate each spring in the National Model United Nations conference in New York City. For many years, they participated in fall conferences in Chicago, but the past two years have traveled a bit farther afield—traveling to Xi’An, China, in 2009 for the first National Collegiate Conference Association international event and to the second international session, at Palačky University in Olomouc, Czech Republic, in late November this year.
Senior Willoughby Smith and junior Sai Balasubramanian served as head delegates for Austin College, not assigned to committee, but assisting all delegates in preparation of materials and rules of order for the conference.
Outstanding committee honors went to junior Daniel Leal and sophomore Ashton Gelat, Security Council for France, and to sophomore Will Griffith and senior Frank McStay forwork on behalf of Canada on UNESCO/United Nations Educational Organization.
Austin College participants are listed below by hometown, along with the delegation represented, as well as their parents’ names and the local high school from which they graduated.
Rachel Dodd, Canada, General Assembly Plenary Committee, Westlake High School, daughter of Mary and Michael Dodd;
Blair Lenhan, France, General Assembly Plenary Committee, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Aaron Sallee;
Adnan Merchant, Canada, NATO/North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Grapevine Senior High School, son of Shams and Anar Merchant;
Daniel Ashworth, France, General Assembly Plenary Committee, North Hills Preparatory School, son of Jay and Lisa Ashwaorth;
Fort Worth, Texas
Brandon Stevenson-Matthews, France, NATO/North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Lawrence D. Bell High School, son of Brigitte Matthews;
Frank McStay II, Canada, UNESCO/United Nations Educational Organization., Wakeland High School, son of Frank and Mitzi McStay;
Ummekulsoom Lalani, France, UNESCO/United Nations Educational Organization., Colleyville Heritage High School, daughter of Farida and Ashigali Lalani;
Willoughby Smith, Head Delegate, Liberty High School, daughter of Patrick and Nita Smith;
Ashton Gelat, France, Security Council, McKinney Boyd High School, daughter of Anthony and Jennifer Gelat;
Sai Balasubramanian, Head Delegate, Plano West Senior High School, son of Bhuvana and Ganesh Balasubramanian;
Divya Mallela, France, UNESCO/United Nations Educational Organization., Plano East Senior High School, daughter of Siva and Rekha Mallela;
San Antonio, Texas
Megan Luschen, Canada, NATO/North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Winston Churchill High School, daughter of David and Carol Luschen;
William Griffith, Canda, UNESCO/United Nations Educational Organization., Sherman High School, son of David and Carol Griffith;
Claire LeBlanc, France, NATO/North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Tomball High School, daughter of Fred and Cindy LeBlanc;
Sugar Land, Texas
Joseph Goldman, Canada, General Assemble Plenary Committee, William P Clements High School, son of Carolyn Goldman and Jim Goldman;
Daniel Leal, France, Security Council, Plano Senior High School, son of Richard and Grace Leal.
The National Model United Nations conference is a simulation of the actual working of the UN. Delegates must learn all positions of the country they represent, and then represent those positions during caucus and committee sessions, examining real issues of the UN.
Austin College participants prepared for months, researching assigned countries of France and Canada to understand the positions of those nations in preparation for caucus and committee sessions dealing with real issues of the United Nations. Students served on the General Assembly and the Security Council for each country. Conferences address important issues including regional conflicts, peacekeeping, human rights, women and children, economic and social development, and the environment. The Austin College delegations were among 300 participants from 11 countries, with students attending from 37 colleges on three continents.
Event coordinators this year sought a European or African venue to involve students from all parts of the world. Though the New York event includes 5,000 participants from five continents, the international venues allow more involvement from nearby nations and also allow participants to explore the culture of the conference sites.
Austin College is a leading national independent liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas. Founded in 1849, making it the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original charter and name, the college is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA). Recognized nationally for academic excellence in the areas of international education, pre-professional training, and leadership studies, Austin College is one of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges that Change Lives.