By Chelsea Rankin
Patrick Henry College
Patrick Henry College's representatives for Model UN
Senior Seth McKinnis signed up for National Model United Nations (NMUN) his first year on campus. He was hoping to learn more about international affairs, and thought studying UN policy and experiencing the procedure firsthand would help. Once he became involved, he was struck by all the aspects Model UN offered him, including meeting people from all over the world.
“It’s not often I’ve had the opportunity to talk and eat lunch with delegates from Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands,” McKinnis said.
Sixteen Patrick Henry students traveled to New York for five days to compete at the most advanced and competitive Model UN conference in the nation. Patrick Henry’s team represented the Republic of Ireland and beat out over 150 other universities from all over the world for one of the top fifteen “Outstanding Delegation” ranks. This means that as a team, PHC placed within the top 10% of competing universities.
James Nelson, President of
In addition to earning the highest award overall as a complete team, one pair of PHC students—Kira Clark and Ruan Meintjes—earned the highest individual committee award for their specific work over the four day conference. In addition, Jasmine Howells and Joshua Mechaelsen won the Position Paper award for their committee, demonstrating superior research and analysis in preparation for competition.
“Through Model UN, I've learned a new language, that is, an ability to communicate my opinions and knowledge about international politics, faith, and life, in a way comprehensible to those who often have very different religious and socio-political backgrounds than myself,” McKinnis said.
Senior James Nelson has served as President of PHC’s NMUN club for the past two years.
“Model UN has taught the great importance of conservative influence in the actual UN,” he said. “NMUN has also taught me the skill of diplomacy: the ability to interact with others—both friends and enemies—and persuade them to join your cause through interpersonal relations. This is a supremely important life skill which NMUN forces you to sharpen.”
Nelson believes it is of paramount importance for conservative Christians to become involved in international affairs to preserve marriage, families, the lives of unborn infants, fiscal security, and state sovereignty.
“I hope that the PHC Model UN club will continue our tradition of Outstanding Delegation awards for the foreseeable future,” he said. “It is a real testament to the natural diplomatic prowess of PHC students.”
Kira Clark and James Nelson
The Model UN Club still receives no funding of any kind from the school. There is also no logistical support or academic support from non-students. The entire team worked hard to raise thousands of dollars needed (the majority of team members contributed their own personal money) and to academically prepare for the conference. The PHC NMUN Club’s student leadership worked hard to interview and select team members from many applicants to the club, to plan and raise funds for the trip and hotel, and to prepare all team members to excel in their committees through extensive research of their committee topics and participation in simulations of the conference to develop diplomatic strategies.
Junior Jasmine Howells and partner Josh Mechaelsen won a position paper award, for their research which addressed three issues: international drug traffic, rights of the youth, and the global financial crisis. They provided potential solutions for Ireland and encouraged other countries to engage in free trade.
Participating in the NMUN conference taught Howells about the power of communicating.
“You are living and breathing diplomacy and collaboration throughout the event,” she said. “You’re texting people, g-talking people, Facebook messaging people. You’re meeting people for breakfast, lunch, coffee, and dinner. You had to learn to prioritize your leadership and investment.”
In spite of working hard and winning awards, Howells and team member Sydney Roe were able to spend some time sightseeing and shopping in New York City. As Howells first time in NYC, she was struck by the amount of people and energy.
“It was a ton of fun working with everyone from PHC and from other delegations,” she said. “I’d definitely do it again next year in a heartbeat.”