When prospective student Kayvon Behroozian met first-year Olivia Ware, an idea was born. Behroozian had come to Whitman College looking for a specific club, and when he found that it was no longer active, he decided to recreate it with Ware’s help. Now a first-year Behroozian and sophomore Ware have worked together to bring a Model United Nations club back to Whitman.
In the past, Whitman has had a Model UN, but the club hasn’t been active for several years. Behroozian and Ware, both of whom were involved with Model UN at their respective high schools, felt that bringing it back to life at Whitman would be beneficial for the college.
“It allows students to participate in a politics where the goal is collaboration and not winning. Delegates work together to try and find solutions to different issues,” Behroozian said.
Conferences are central to Model UN, and allow students to learn about the specific policies and interests of a nation. Prior to attending a conference, a Model UN chapter is assigned a country to represent and research. Students then act as the country’s representatives at the conference and work collaboratively on policy issues with other delegations. Through this process, club members become well-versed in their country’s policies, history and culture.
Behroozian described that the club has helped him achieve better public speaking and research skills, and both Ware and Behroozian said that Model UN exposed them to the diversity of views in the world.
“Since delegates are representing a different country at each conference, they get to learn about many different parts of the world. Together, they work towards a goal to better understand the international community,” Behroozian said.
Ware also spoke about diversity within the club itself.
“The club has brought together people I wouldn’t have gotten to know otherwise. Also, it’s a diverse group. Half of the members are part of minority groups, which is something Whitman doesn’t see often,” she said.
Since its renewal, 10 of the club’s members have already had considerable success. On March 9, WhitMUN attended the Nation Model UN-APEC Conference in Washington D.C., which focused primarily on economic issues. The delegation was recognized in several award categories. Both Behroozian and junior Alice Minor received “Outstanding Delegate” awards, and the club as a whole received an honorable mention for “Best Delegation”.
Both of the club’s founders were thrilled with the results of the conference.
“The club did fantastically at the conference, especially considering how little time we had to prepare,” Ware said.
They had only held seven meetings prior to the conference. Behroozian believes that after doing so well with so little experience, the club is bound to do good things.
First-year Jane Carmody, who joined Model UN because of her interest in international politics, was also pleased with the first conference.
“It was well put together and just the right size for a good introduction. I had fun and learned a lot,” she said.
Carmody is excited about the potential to expand the club.
“I’m looking forward to building a bigger foundation and getting more members. Maybe someday we’ll have a huge delegation,” she said.
The club has several plans for the future. They hope to host a Model UN conference for high school students next year to showcase opportunities in Model UN for potential prospective students.
Members are also hoping to attend a conference in Seattle and another in New York at the official UN headquarters next year.
Behroozian believes that one of the club’s most important long-term goals is to become self-sufficient. He hopes that they can get to a point where they can pay for conferences without petitioning ASWC for money.
Despite potential challenges, he remains optimistic about the club’s future.
“The only place to go is up. The members we have are devoted now. They fell in love at the conference, and they can help to get more people interested,” he said.