Still, that does not prevent others from discovering the world at home.
In fact, students are learning that the highest tiers of global conflict, compromise and international intrigue are not easy whether on the floor of the United Nations or the library at Collin College.
For more than 40 years, Model United Nations has been a part of college and university campuses. For some students, it’s practice for a career on the national and global stage. Others find it as a way to stay engaged and discover opportunities for the future.
Two things are for sure: It’s not just playacting and having fun.
“You get slammed,” said David Weisser, a former Collin College Model UN delegate, currently at The University of Texas at Dallas (UT-Dallas), where he transferred in the spring of 2012.
“In Chicago, everyone got sick because it was so tough. Eleven or 12 people were all laid out because they were so sick. That’s when you learn to buy a bunch of Gatorade when you first arrive.”
Model UN is a simulation where students act as delegates of an adopted country, conduct research, engage in debate, draft resolutions and participate in conferences.
Steffi Mangelsdorf also served on Collin College’s Model UN and transferred with Weisser this spring to UT-Dallas, where she joined the Model UN team there. In fact, UT-Dallas waived its rule of making new or transfer students wait a year before joining for Weisser and Mangelsdorf due to the extensive experience they had at Collin College.
“There is an incredible amount of work involved with Model UN,” Mangelsdorf said. “At first, it seems overwhelming. You have to look up resolutions and speeches. Sometimes, there is not a lot of information available. You have to start reading between the lines, seeing if there was a consensus in speeches and resolutions, and seeing how one country reacts to another. Are they aggressive? Do they compromise? You have to learn how to write resolutions so you don’t make a fool of yourself at the conference.”
Model UN may be a series of mock resolutions, votes, caucuses and actions, but the changes in its participants are real. Model UN teams are assigned a country. Collin College’s squad has been “Zimbabwe,” “the Democratic Republic of Congo,” “Pakistan” and “Zambia.”
Students are charged with immersing themselves in their adoptive country. They must learn and know the country’s strengths and weaknesses, allies and enemies, histories, presents and futures.
The Collin College Model UN has competed against some of the foremost universities in the nation. This spring, the team traveled to New York City and held their conference on the actual floor of the United Nations. If awards and recognition are any indication, the preparation, practice and research paid off. At the National Model United Nations Conference in spring 2012, the Collin College delegation (representing Zambia) took home awards for Distinguished Delegation and Outstanding Position Paper.
The work Weisser and Mangelsdorf put in now might pay dividends soon. The latter two plan on careers involving international affairs and the United Nations. Former Model United Nations students from Collin College have transferred to Stanford, Columbia, SMU and other prestigious schools.
All four said something to the effect of a quote from Mangelsdorf:
“The Model UN program was the best thing that happened to me at Collin College,” she said. “It made me focus so much more on what I wanted to do with my life.”