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When the world found out about the Rwandan genocide in 1994, the international community vowed “Never again.” Never again would we allow this kind of human rights violation to occur. Washington College students recently took this vow to heart as they explored the politics surrounding the genocide, thereby gaining experience about how they could stop such incidents from recurring.
The Model United Nations team journeyed to McGill University in Montreal to participate in the 24th McMUN conference from Jan. 24 to 27. Participants were assigned a specific country or person to represent in various scenarios involving peacekeeping, human rights, and other goals toward which the real-world UN works.
Shana Brouder ’16 represented Kofi Annan, who was Undersecretary General of Peacekeeping at the time of the Rwandan crisis. She served on the Triple Joint Crisis Committee on the Rwandan Genocide with other students representing Hutu, Tuti, and other UN factions.
“Basically, our committee was dealing with crises that involved all three cabinets,” Shana said. “For example, when the Hutus launched an attack, we in the UN found out about it and had to respond. The committee also had to deal with whatever crisis the conference staff threw at us. My first “crisis” proposed that we comprised the Security Council in 1983, ten years before Rwanda occurred, and we were all assigned various countries to represent on the spot.”
Model UN involves more than just responding to scenarios, however. Participants had to do extensive research before they arrived to ensure they were prepared to debate effectively from the perspective of their country or delegate, and present solutions that would be amenable to a majority of the stakeholders. For Shana, this meant studying diverse topics such as “how the Department of Peacekeeping worked in the UN in 1994, the countries who were powerful during the time, [and] the technical advancements that were available,” on top of her class coursework.
She enjoyed the challenge. “I first became interested in Model UN when I entered high school in the 7th grade. It seemed like a cool opportunity to get involved with a club that combined upperclassmen with the junior high schoolers. After my first meeting, I was hooked. I loved doing all the research on interesting things and it also helped me get over my shyness,” she said.
Her years of dedication paid off at McMUN. Shana received the Book Award at the conclusion of the conference “for being well prepared, diplomatic, and a good debater overall throughout the conference,” she said.
“It was really awesome to win the award. I feel that I have really established myself as a good MUNner personally and a legitimate part of the Washington College Model UN team.”
Shana sees Model UN as a valuable way to learn “what the real world is going to be like” in the realm of foreign policy and international diplomacy. “I have learned so much that will definitely enrich my college experience for the next few years to come.”
— Emily Blackner ’14