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International diplomacy growing at Earlham with 21st annual Model UN conference

January 25, 2016

When a gavel tap opens this year’s Earlham College Model United Nations Conference (ECMUN) on Friday, Jan. 29, nearly 400 high school students and faculty will be on campus for what is expected to be largest conference in the event’s 21-year history.

Conference Secretary Maryia Pupko ’16 says participants of the educational simulation come from 16 regional high schools in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio. They include Zionsville High School, Canterbury School, Cincinnati Country Day School, Carmel High School, Model Laboratory School, Richmond High School and Indiana Academy.

“We are known to be an educational conference, one that is based on respect, passion and diversity,” says Shatha Sbeta ’16, who serves as club secretary. “As the person in charge of training staff members with parliamentary procedure, I always tell members to remember that we are not a competitive conference even though we give out awards. Instead we are a conference that encourages high school students to be strong, punctual and confident. Hence, I believe that the open warm space we offer as hosts encourages more students to come to our conference.”

Model UN is an academic experience related to the workings and diplomacy of the United Nations, with students serving as delegates representing various assigned countries. Delegates debate their topics in committee sessions and work to pass resolutions using their diplomacy and negotiation skills. Students research topics prior to the conference with the hope of earning Best Delegate awards at the closing ceremony.

With students representing about 70 countries on campus every year, Earlhamites are well positioned to lead debates on some of the most pressing challenges facing the world.

“We started adding a little spice to our learning conference,” Sbeta continues. “We have a crisis team that most other educational conferences do not have. We are always trying to make sure that our delegates have something new and different to experience. We do not repeat the committees we had before, and we try to not repeat topics either.”

New ECMUN committees this year include the African Union Council, the Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, the Office of Drugs and Crime, and a special committee on the Rebirth of the Middle Kingdom.

In addition to the new committees, the ECMUN leadership structure has changed for 2016.

“It is the first year that we have a club secretary and a conference secretary.” Sbeta explains. “With one person fully responsible for the logistics of the conference, and another responsible for training and club activities, I believe that it makes us more effective and efficient.”

Sbeta says each committee this year will have a different crisis, which will be carried out through visuals and audio.

“This should make the conference experience more fun and exciting,” she adds.

Participants report that the event opens their eyes to global issues, improves their speaking skills, helps them to think on their feet more quickly, and teaches them how to respectfully disagree.

“Model UN teaches a number of crucial skills, essential not only to the professional development but also personal development,” Sbeta says. “As a delegate and chair, I learned how to represent different stats and opinions regardless of my personal opinion. Model UN provided me with skills such as public speaking, research and leadership.”

In fact, when Sbeta was participating in Earlham’s off-campus program in France, she was asked to chair a committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural (UNESCO) agency.

“I chaired the Committee of Arab Affairs, with only one day to prepare,” she says. “If not for Model UN, I would not have been able to do such a task.”

— EC —

Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. Earlham is one of only 40 national liberal arts colleges ranked among U.S. News and World Reports' "Great Schools at a Great Price."

Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at (765) 983-1256 and


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Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

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