Pitzer Spotlights

2007-2008 Spotlight Archives

Pitzer Students and Model UN

by Sol Estin ’10

Pitzer is an institution that places intercultural understanding at the forefront of its objectives. Its students are fortunate to be presented with a diversity of fulfilling opportunities to increase their awareness of pertinent global issues. One such activity is participation in Model United Nations. This gratifying semester-long program allows students to gain experience in research, public speaking, and debate. Months of preparation culminate in a trip to Boston, MA, where Harvard students annually host the Harvard National Model United Nations (HNMUN) conference.

From l-r: David Lee'08, Alvina Amo-Adjei '10, Alex Carswell Engle '09, Alex Lentz '08, Bogolo Joy Kenewendo '08, Sam Brown '11, Asra Bennett '11, Yigit Canay '08, Sol Estin '10, Devon Haynes '10, Jessy Baer '11, Dan Mitchell '08, Head Delegate

HNMUN is more than just an exercise in diplomacy. For the fifteen students selected to represent Pitzer, this three-day conference represents a synthesis of ideas and a zenith of intercultural cooperation and excitement. This year, a diverse collection of approximately 3,000 students from around the world, representing small liberal arts colleges, large universities, and even schools from places as far-reaching as China, Venezuela, and the Netherlands, gathered from February 13 through 17 at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel in the city’s downtown.

Walking through the Park Plaza during the weekend, it was not uncommon to hear as many as five different languages being spoken at once. By day, students met in their committees modeled after actual UN assemblies to debate myriad issues such as the war on terrorism in Colombia, international sovereignty, and the spread of HIV/AIDS. Time in committee was spent pouring over research, anxiously trying to get on the speakers’ list, and working to build consensus on effective resolutions. After hours of intense debate, there was more to do. By night, students encountered an incredible assortment of entertainment opportunities, such as exploring the cultural offerings of Boston, and Saturday night’s famed “Delegate Dance.” In addition to the political thought experiment that is HNMUN, the attraction of such an experience is the ability to observe new surroundings and benefit from discussion with an intelligent, curious, and dedicated assortment of new people.

Students interested in Model UN apply in the fall, a process requiring both a written application and an interview. Students should take advantage of this unique prospect for enhancing one’s educational and social experience while at Pitzer. It is an experience that provides both academic stimulation and a deepening of cross-cultural, cross-national awareness, two Pitzer core values of vital importance.

Professor of Political Studies Tom Ilgen has served as Model UN advisor for twenty-four years at Pitzer College.