Model UN Team Wins Big

Event in Turkey Challenges Skills, Culture

Geoffrey Magee, representing Russia, negotiates with a Turkish student representing the UK to form an alliance.

Geoffrey Magee, representing Russia, negotiates with a Turkish student representing the UK to form an alliance.

04/29/2011
By Sandra Seitz

Preparation and commitment paid off for UMass Lowell students who competed in the Model United Nations competition held in March in Antalya, Turkey.

The team members, drawn from the Dean Bergeron International Relations Club (IRC), won six awards – taking honors in more than half the committees they served on, and winning more awards and honorable mentions than any other school at the conference. 

Although experienced in international competition, students faced some unusual challenges.

'Ugly Americans'

“We represented the only United States university competing,” says Michael Mizzoni, senior in political science. “Some people on the other teams didn’t give us a chance at first – didn’t want to get to know us.”

Mizzoni and Eunice Delice, grad student in regional economic and social development, were the two teaching assistants to the group.

The club’s faculty adviser, Jason Carter, adjunct professor of political sciences, says, “Being the only U.S. school was tough. Our students had to work a bit harder to overcome the negative stereotypes others had. 

"More than one student was asked, ‘Are you a typical American? You’re the first one I’ve ever met.’ So they found themselves explaining the diversity of American culture.”

Fortunately, the long (five-day) conference format and built-in social time gave students the opportunities to get to know one another.

“We became good friends with students from Pakistan,” says Mizzoni, adding that many of those students had never traveled outside of Pakistan. 

Practice, Practice, Practice

The UMass Lowell students faced 300 delegates from 20 other colleges and universities. Their formula for success? “Preparation and dedication,” says Carter. “The team had to represent the Russian Federation – to argue effectively the Russian point of view on each committee – and that required a lot of individual research.” 

Group preparation included “public speaking skills, negotiating tactics and how to win others over to your side of the argument,” says Carter. “The students were absolutely committed to going and representing the University well.”

The UMass Lowell administration provided support, which included arranging a last-minute change of venue from Cairo, Egypt, to the Turkish conference. The delegation stayed on for a few days of additional travel in the region. 

Back on campus, the IRC members quickly turned to preparations to host their 7th annual Model United Nations conference for high school students on April 4.

Among the awards the IRC members won in Turkey were:

Best Delegate Awards

  • Caity Farren, freshman in political science: Security Council  
  • Joseph Le, political science and history major: Future Security Council 
  • Meghan Mandel, junior in political science: Legal Committee

Outstanding Delegate

  • Brendon DeMeo, senior in political science: Disarmament and International Security Council 
  • Stephanie Maaldo, senior in political science and economics: UN High Commission for Refugees
  • Geoffrey Magee, senior in psychology: Special Political Committee
Honorable Mentions

  • Jake Zeigler, senior in political science: High Panel on Millennium Development Goals 
  • Joe Dane, junior in criminal justice: Historic Security Council 
  • Tinuviel Lathrop, senior in political science and IRC president: Security Council