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When In Rome … Win!
Traveling to Rome to participate in Harvard’s World Model United Nations, Washington College’s Model UN team wins two Best Delegate awards while reveling in the cultural smorgasbord.
Just about the last thing Tyanna Baker and Josh Peterson expected when they matriculated with Washington College’s class of 2019 last fall was to be winning Best Delegate awards at the World Model United Nations (World MUN) in Rome. Then again, neither one of them ever expected to be traveling to Italy’s ancient city, participating in an audience with Pope Francis, and mingling with more than 2,400 other students from around the world—all within their first year at WAC.
“It was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had,” says Peterson, who hails from Texas and plans to declare a double major in international studies and Hispanic studies.
“Same,” says Baker, who came to Chestertown from Alaska and is an economics and political science double major, with a minor in Spanish. “Definitely the highlight of my life so far.”
That the two freshmen did so well, however, in such a competitive environment—Harvard’s World MUN is the annual international pinnacle of Model UN competitions—came as little surprise to Tahir Shad, associate professor of political science and international studies who brought Model UN to the College’s campus 25 years ago and has been its director since.
“I would say this is one of the strongest delegations that we’ve taken to the World MUN. It’s incredibly competitive,” Shad says. For a small liberal arts college, he says, Washington College has a strong national ranking; in the fall 2014 North American college rankings (world division) by bestdelegate.com, Washington College was listed in the top 75. “We are ranked highly because of the number of awards that we’ve won at Yale’s Security Council Simulation, World MUN, and the other models where we’ve participated.”
“We’re ranked really high for a small college,” says Shana Brouder ’16, a double major in international studies and German studies and president of the International Studies Council, which oversees the training and selection of WAC’s Model UN team. On the Model UN team since her freshman year, she has participated in World MUNs in Brussels, Korea, and Rome. “We’re competing against George Washington University, Yale, Princeton, Harvard, and we’re still really competitive.”
At World MUN in Rome, Washington College’s team was among 2,400 students from 115 countries. Only 18 schools from the United States competed, including Yale, Princeton, George Washington, Claremont McKenna, Boston University, Georgetown, Colgate, and the College of William and Mary.
Along with the actual conference, the five-day event incorporated special ceremonies and opportunities including an audience with Pope Francis, a parade from St. Peter’s Basilica through the city to the Colosseum, different cultural events every night, and opening ceremonies that included a welcoming speech from Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi.
“Academically it’s a really great program, but even more important is this intercultural connectedness that comes about, the international communications that happen,” Shad says. “Our students learn how to deal with and be friends with people from all over the world. And that’s just as, if not more, important for our students.”
The College’s Model UN team gets financial support from multiple sources on campus, among them the Bennett Endowment for International Studies, the Goldstein Program in Public Affairs, and the Student Government Association.