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Model United Nations does well at virtual conference

ISSUED: 5 November 2020
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University’s Model United Nations won three prizes during the virtual Southern Regional Model United Nations Conference October 23-25 in which about 40 universities competed.

Political science major Jonathan Biedler, Martinsburg, won the prize for best position paper, receiving a perfect score representing Fiji in the General Assembly Plenary. William Prudnick, chemistry major, Martinsburg, and Glen Sawyer, sociology major, Shepherdstown, won best delegation representing Belarus in the General Assembly Plenary.

The whole Belarus Delegation won honorable delegation. Members included Lauren Fricks, political science major, Alexandria, Virginia, and Devon Hofmeister, history major, Curtis Bay, Maryland, in the General Assembly First Committee; Katherine Madden, global studies major, Shepherdstown, and Braeden Bottner, political science major, Weston, Food and Agricultural Organization; Zachery Runion, political science major, Charles Town, Economic and Social Council; and Alyssa Nazarok, political science major, Northfield, New Jersey, Commission on the Status of Women.

The team also includes members of the Fiji delegation, Peter Proctor, global studies major, Huntington, General Assembly First Committee, and Taylor Bean, political science major, Romney, Food and Agricultural Organization.

“These excellent results were the outcome of dedication and preparation by the students and the support of the Shepherd University community,” said Dr. Aart Holtslag, director, Global Studies and Model UN advisor.

This was a unique experience for the group. Model UN meetings normally take place in person, but due to COVID-19 this meeting took place via Zoom. Runion, head delegate, has participated in Model UNs that took place in person. He sees advantages to both in-person and virtual events.

“The online Model UN wasn’t a diminished experience, it was just a different one,” Runion said. “In person you have more one-on-one interaction with delegations from the other schools, but I feel like the negotiation aspect online was in some ways easier because you don’t have to go all over the conference floor or track people down, you can just message them right there. I find the in-person Model UN a lot more exhausting because it takes more energy, whereas on the computer it’s easier to step away and take a break.”

Prudnick said he thoroughly enjoyed the virtual Model UN experience.

“It helped me learn more about the United Nations as a body and the processes which go into creating the various resolutions,” Prudnick said. “There’s nothing quite like a hands-on experience to learn about something. It helps strengthen not just your knowledge of the United Nations but other things as well, such as how laws as a whole are made. It also helps critical thinking skills, skills of discernment, and the rules of debate. It’s an experience I’m definitely going to remember and something that I’ll take a lot out of.”

“It helped me gain public speaking skills and confidence in my public speaking,” Nazarok said. “Even though it’s on Zoom, it’s still nerve wracking because you only have a certain amount of time to speak. You have to sign up to speak, and then you’re in a group of people who you have no idea who they are, and you have to insert your opinions.”

Bean said participating gave her experience in dealing with conflict resolution.

“Because not all of the delegates are cooperative,” she said. “Plus, I made a ton of friends and learned a lot.”

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