Six NOVA students participated in the National Model United Nations Conference (NMUN) in New York City, where over 150 colleges and universities gathered to discuss current global issues. The 2018-2019 NOVA Model United Nations (MUN) delegates were a diverse group of domestic and international students from Côte d’Ivoire, Libya, Ethiopia, Namibia, Maryland and Virginia. They proudly served as ambassadors from Canada in six distinct committees, discussing topics such as urbanization and sustainable development, marine plastic litter and microplastics, and the effects of international migration on cities. At the conclusion of the conference, NOVA MUN was one of the few community colleges recognized as a 2019 Distinguished Delegation. This was the first award for NOVA at the national conference.
Students participating in MUN have the opportunity to learn about the inner workings of the United Nations, develop communication and diplomacy skills and negotiate viable solutions for the most pressing problems facing the international community. However, students must first spend months leading up to conference preparing individually and as a team. At the start of the Fall 2018 semester, NOVA MUN students began meeting every week to research the policies of Canada, draft position papers detailing Canada’s views on various committee topics, and participate in procedural rules and negotiation training.
In addition, the delegation attended a policy briefing at the Embassy of Canada in Washington, D.C., with Hussein Hirji, counselor for economics and development. Counselor Hirji has been part of Canada’s delegation to the UN General Assembly, covered Canada’s nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation policy, and previously posted to the Representative Office of Canada in Ramallah, Palestine. As part of the briefing, the students could ask critical questions that helped with their character development and understanding of Canada’s position on various matters.
The students also had an opportunity to attend a briefing at the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations. Through diplomacy, negotiation, and analysis of current United Nations initiatives, Counselor Hirji works to advance Canada’s interests on an international scale, specifically focusing on global refugee and migration issues. The Counselor took questions from the students in regard to refugee resettlement, the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peacekeeping, sustainable development, climate change and effective diplomacy. The sessions with Canadian diplomats empowered the students to accurately and strategically represent Canada at the conference. The NOVA MUN delegation went on to deliver original speeches and collaborate on written committee resolutions to many of the issues presented.
The NOVA MUN delegation was met with a surprise and exclusive opportunity at the end of the Conference from Ndaba Mandela, chairman of Africa Rising. Ndaba is the grandson of the global icon and former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. During the visit, Ndaba and the NOVA delegation discussed African politics, global issues, and he shared memories about the late great Nelson Mandela. Members of the delegation were inspired by this unique experience.
NOVA MUN is proud to have represented the College and Canada at NMUN. The hard work of the students was essential to their success, but the delegation would not have been able to attend without the gracious support of many throughout the College. The delegation would like to thank the NOVA College-Wide Student Life Office, Annandale Student Life Office, the AL LASS Division, and Professor of Communication Studies and Theatre, Dr. Meredith Aquila, for ongoing support.
NOVA MUN is already making plans to attend conferences next year. If you are interested in joining NOVA MUN or would like more information, please email the delegation’s advisor, Mohamed Ali at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in reading more about the conference, visit www.nmun.org.