By From the Lowell Sun
By Megan Burdt
Twenty-one students from UMass Lowell's Dean Bergeron International Relations Club competed in the recent international Model United Nations conference in London, taking home several awards for their performance.
The club represented several different countries, including Spain, Australia, Laos and Macedonia.
Model UN conferences simulate diplomacy at the international level. Students competing in the conference are assigned to a country and a committee, and given topics to research and debate. They are judged on several different factors, including diplomacy, knowledge of their topic, and public speaking. Some of the topics discussed included the global food crisis, access to health care, and establishing a nuclear-free zone.
In preparation for the conference, students did extensive research on their committee's topics, as well as practiced their public speaking and debating skills.
The club was founded in 1985 by Bergeron, currently professor emeritus of History at UMass Lowell. Professor Ardeth Thawnghmung of UML's Political Science Department has been the adviser for the club for the past four years, overseeing their preparation, which began with one week of intensive training before the beginning of spring semester.
Her dedication to the club has helped UML win numerous awards at several conferences over the years. At the North Atlantic Model UN Conference, held in Toronto every year, UMass Lowell has won Best Delegation three of the past five years. Students in the International Relations Club have also competed in conferences in Los Angeles, Geneva and New York City.
The conference in London was chosen for its demanding environment. One thousand delegate students from 26 countries participated at the London conference. The reputation of the UMass Lowell club, one of two American universities participating in the conference, has again been established in the highly competitive international conference by the extraordinary performance of the UML students.
Manasa Kamineni won Best Delegate for representing Laos, and Katie Addison, president of the club, took home an honorable mention for her representation of Australia.
Students in the club also got a taste of English culture, exploring London and its tourist hotspots. Matt Colbert, a senior at UML described the trip as "the best experience and time I could ever have."
From April 7-9, the International Relations Club will host the fifth annual Model United Nations at the Wannalancit building, bringing about 180 high-school students from across Massachusetts.