VTSU students represent Zambia in Model UN

Students at a Model United Nations conference in Massachusetts represent different countries.

“Zambia is present and voting,” Vermont State University students said during each committee session as country roll call was taken. 

The Harvard National Model United Nations, hosted by Marriott, saw the inaugural VTSU team leave quite an impression during the four-day long conference. The Feb. 15-18 event was marked with late-night committee sessions, intense debate, international cooperation and cultural immersion as university teams took on the national interests and priorities of their represented nation to the model United Nations floor. 

Model UN features a series of events that mimic the organization and premise of the United Nations. Held frequently and throughout the country, Model UN provides students the opportunity to taste global diplomacy and experience the cooperation, toleration and collaboration necessary for global governance to thrive. 

Gathering students from varying majors, countries, and backgrounds allows committee sessions to hear a diversity of opinions and is reflected in multifaceted negotiations that eventually lead to resolution. 

The VTSU Team was a conglomerate of Castleton, Randolph and Johnson students, who, after only meeting via Zoom, were formally introduced at a MacDonald’s carpark in White River Junction as they made their way to Boston. 

“The biggest change was the involvement of club members from three out of our five Vermont State University campuses. If you were to have asked me during the thick of the merger if I thought cross-campus clubs were a good idea, I would’ve said no. Today I confidently say the Model UN team will never be the same and we are better than ever! The involvement from other campuses allowed for a diverse team of some of the smartest and most hard-working students the university has to offer,” explained Model UN Club President and Johnson student Kaitlyn Stone. 

The VTSU students had departed the quiet serenity of Vermont as the expanse of the Marriott hotel’s open floor lobby welcomed them to Boston. The space shrunk as it crowded with young business professionals, already networking before the opening ceremony. 

“Someone was standing on a chair, some were talking over each other. There were some 

egos flaring momentarily. It got pretty loud at several moments within the unmoderated bloc 

caucuses, and I was just there to witness and learn,”recalled Castleton freshmen Setty 

Provencher, who sat on the World Health Organization Committee discussing artificial 

intelligence and its medical applications. 

“Once there, I was struck by the level of prestige, the feeling of connectivity and that feeling of whoa, I actually made it to this, because, well, it’s Harvard,” Provencher said. 

The conference consisted largely of lengthy committee sessions punctuated with social 

events including trivia, an international bazaar, delegate socials and a career and opportunities 

festival. The committee sessions provided a forum for speeches and negotiations among and 

between countries, mediated by experiences chairs. 

As first-year attendees, The VTSU students’ first hurdle to overcome was the complex jargon and acronyms constituting half of all sentences. 

The unique challenge of Model UN is to accurately voice and advocate a perspective largely removed from delegates’ home countries. Each committee was required to submit a position paper in late January that presents the national interests of their represented country. 

The allocation of countries to university teams was based on team size. With a smaller group, the VTSU students were asked to represent Zambia. 

“As the delegate of Zambia, I made it a mission to find like-minded countries whose first step of action would be to educate the young and vulnerable. Similarly, creating and electing local women into local leadership roles was a vital step for enduring the constant continuation of education programs within rural areas,” explained Stone, who sat on the Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee. 

“I tried to put aside my own personal opinions and beliefs and really just fight for what I would believe Zambia would argue and would stand for and give its demographics and its culture and just the history of the country,” noted Vice-President of the VTSU Model UN Club and Johnson senior Maria Mesquita. 

Recognizing a diversity of cultures and interpretations was a central component of the conference, with over 30 countries represented. 

“Meeting people from different countries and being in an environment where different languages are spoken, I love that,” recounted Mesquita. 

Within the International Security and Disarmament Committee, delegates Anima Mishkat and Camille Jackson joined a coalition of countries concentrated in the global south and passed a resolution to address ethnic conflict. 

The conclusion of Model UN saw the VTSU team enjoying a pit-stop in Manchester on the return to Vermont. 

While slightly skeptical about the ongoings of the United Nations, the conference demonstrated to Stone its potential. 

“Fast forward to now, I would argue that the UN is a vital steppingstone in the process of ensuring human rights globally, however, that is just one of the many actions accelerated by the UN,” Stone said. 

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