Team Also Adds New High School, Model Arab League Events

Junior Anthony Amatucci and first-year student David Osborne co-chair the Security Council at UML's Model U.N. for high schools Image by K. Webster
UML students Anthony Amatucci, left, and David Osborne chair the Security Council at the Model United Nations conference for high school students.

By Katharine Webster

Hamdia Ahmed first took a Model United Nations class in sixth grade at the British curriculum school she attended in Ethiopia.

She loved it, in large part because she admired the older students’ self-confidence and knowledge, as well as the way they dressed up for conferences.

“They looked so cool,” she says. “I was like, ‘I want to be them!’”

Ahmed stuck with Model U.N. through middle and high school, even as her family moved to the United Arab Emirates, where she went to another British curriculum school. There, she took an international relations class and developed a true passion for diplomacy.

Model UN Coordinator Jason Carter with student Madison Feudo at UML's 2024 Model U.N. conference for high schools Image by K. Webster
Model U.N. and International Relations Club advisor Jason Carter and student Madison Feudo, secretary general of the high school Model U.N. conference, welcome students.

So, a couple of months after starting at UMass Lowell, she decided to check out the Model U.N. team. The Northeast Regional Model Arab League conference in Boston was coming up, and Ahmed was immediately invited to attend, based on her previous experience.

“Everyone was so welcoming,” she says. “The (team) president asked, ‘What country and committee do you want to be in?’ The first country I represented was the UAE.”

Now, Ahmed is a junior double-majoring in political science and peace and conflict studies, with a minor in Arabic Studies. She plans to earn a master’s degree, most likely in Europe to broaden her international experience, and then apply to jobs with the U.N. and international aid and human rights organizations.

Since it was founded in 1984, UMass Lowell’s Model U.N. program has built a strong reputation nationally and internationally.

This year was no exception, with students attending and hosting more competitions than ever before, says International Relations Club advisor Jason Carter ’04, ’06, ’21, coordinator for interdisciplinary programs and Model United Nations in the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

High school students listen to Jason Carter at the opening of UML Model U.N. in 2024 Image by K. Webster
A record 15 high schools signed up for the 2024 UML Model U.N. conference.

Over spring break, a Model U.N. team of 13 students won the award for top delegation and five individual delegate awards at an international conference in Edinburgh, Scotland. A couple of weeks later, they traveled to Washington, D.C., to compete in the national Model Arab League finals, where Anthony Amatucci and Madison Feudo won an award for jointly representing Sudan on a committee.

“These are great students,” Carter says. “I tell them all the time, ‘Awards are great, I love winning, I hate losing, I’m a very competitive person,’ but at the end of the day, I want them to have a positive academic experience. It’s way more about the academic experience and growth.”

Feudo is a great example of that growth. She had no Model U.N. experience when she transferred to UMass Lowell in the second semester of her sophomore year. The peace and conflict studies major signed up for the hands-on Model U.N. research and simulation seminar that Carter teaches every spring.

At first, she was nervous. The seminar involves intensive research and writing, as well as learning everything from Model U.N. rules and procedures to how to chair a committee. Students in the class prepare to compete at an international conference over spring break – usually in Scotland or Belgium – and then host a three-day Model U.N. for high school students in early April.

Whittier Vocational-Technical High School teacher and Model U.N. advisor Jana Brown '91, '93, listens at the opening ceremony of UML Model U.N. Image by K. Webster
Jana Brown '91, '93, a teacher and founding Model U.N. advisor at Whittier Vocational-Technical High School in Haverhill, watches the opening ceremony.

Feudo plunged into the work, and thrived. Two years later, she’s president of the Dean Bergeron International Relations Club, the student organization behind the Model U.N. team, and she was chosen to serve as Secretary General for the high school Model U.N. earlier this month. (For the past three years, the club has also hosted a “crisis conference” for high school students each November.)

Feudo also won a delegate award at every competition, including in Scotland, where she had a very tough assignment: representing China on the Security Council in a dispute over the South China Sea. This time, she was competing against Amatucci, among others. Feudo got an honorable mention, while Amatucci won the Security Council’s top delegate award while representing Japan.

“It’s nice to be recognized, but I was much more excited about us winning the best delegation award,” Feudo says. “I’m so proud of all of us.”

Amatucci, a junior honors student double-majoring in political science and quantitative economics and minoring in Italian Studies says Model U.N. has showed him how to apply the knowledge he’s gaining in his classes.

“I like how everything we do feels like it has a pragmatic purpose,” he says. “In the classroom, when you’re writing up assignments or studying for an exam, you’re just preparing for that grade. In Model U.N., I’m writing background guides and preparing to give those high school students the best experience possible.”

Gayathri Raja, a senior quantitative economics major with minors in math and finance, agrees that Model U.N. complements her classroom learning; she often serves as a delegate to the Economic and Social Council or as the chair. She says she has gained invaluable career skills, too.

“No. 1 is public speaking. You are constantly standing up and giving speeches,” she says. “It can be very nerve-wracking, but I’ve learned to turn that nervousness into excitement every single time.”

Whittier Vo-Tech High School student Maxx Levesque prepares to represent Turkey on the World Health Organization committee of UML Model U.N. Image by K. Webster
Maxx Levesque, 18, a student at Whittier Vocational-Technical High School, represents Turkey on the World Health Organization committee.

She has also learned excellent research skills, thanks to the methods taught by Carter in the seminar. This spring, she and Feudo are “student leaders” for the seminar, helping to pass those skills on to less-experienced students.

But like the other students, Raja says one of the greatest benefits of Model U.N. has been finding a community.

“Over the last three years, 90% of my closest friends have come from this club,” she says.

Feudo goes a step further, saying the Model U.N. team is like “a family.”

“I know that sounds so cheesy,” says Feudo, who is living at home this semester. “But I spend more time with them than with my own parents.”