Adams State's Model U.N. successful at international conference

(04-29-2015)

Adams State University's Model U.N. team includes (front, from left): Natalie Acurio, Laurel Heimstra, Dr. Mari Centeno, Azarel Madrigal; (back, from left): Stevon Cornish, Mark Mabry, Will Custer and Justin Chase.

When Adams State University's Model U.N. Team attends international conferences, they find people have seldom heard of ASU or Alamosa, Colorado. But their most recent achievements at the Mediterranean Model U.N (MEDMUN 2015) are making them memorable. Three of the team's six members were recognized as "Best Delegate" in their respective committees at the conference, held March 27-29 in Menton, France, on the campus of SciencesPo University.

"We beat out schools like Brown University, Princeton, and the London School of Economics. I asked the group for a lot of preparatory work, and it paid off. They conducted themselves incredibly well and really deserve this win," said Model U.N. adviser Dr. Mari Centeno, professor of political science. She has coached ASU Model U.N. at a total of twelve conferences.

MEDMUN 2015 "Best Delegate" awards went to Laurel Heimstra for Special Historical committee, Azarel Madrigal for Security Council, and Mark Mabry for ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council). The traveling team also included William Custer, Justin Chase, and Stevon Cornish.

Model U.N. engages students internationally in simulation of the United Nations operations. There were about 300 delegates to this conference, Centeno added. "I actually prefer these smaller conferences, because it gives everyone the opportunity to speak." The group also visited landmarks and historic sites in Nice, France; Ventimiglia, Italy; and Monaco.

Dr. Mari Centeno, professor of political science, adviser to Adam State University Model U.N.

"We learn about international relations and culture," Heimstra said. "I know this experience will help me a great deal when I become a teacher, not only through public speaking, but also in developing critical thinking skills." She is president of Adams State's Model U.N. Club and will graduate in May with a triple major in English/liberal arts, political science, and history. Judges for her committee lauded Heimstra's work to ally smaller city states against a common enemy in a diplomatic exercise concerning the Peloponnesian War. Had that actually occurred in fifth-century B.C. Greece, it would have changed history.

Mabry will also graduate in May with a double major in political science and history. His committee delved into the question of whether Gulf countries, such as Saudi Arabia, should extend citizenship to their migrant workers.

Laurel Heimstra, president of the Model U.N. Club, was named "Best Delegate" for the Special Historical Committee.

Madrigal, vice president of Model U.N. Club, headed the Libya Mandate, a "hectic" session of the Security Council on the country's current crisis. "We worked with people from different countries with different viewpoints. Model U.N. not only develops public speaking and critical thinking skills, it shows you are a leader," said Madrigal, a senior double majoring in political science and history. "We got to experience different cultures and meet people from all over. It was eye opening, compared to how we live in the U.S.,"

While the conference was conducted in English, none of the students could speak French or Italian. Using Google Translate, Model U.N. treasurer Cornish successfully negotiated a haircut while in France. He is a sophomore majoring in English, with a minor in political science, and plans to become a middle school teacher.

Azarel Madrigal, VP of Model U.N. Club, was named Best Delegate for the Security Council.

The group prepared all year for the conference, noted Will Custer, a freshman majoring in social studies, secondary education. They spent two hours every week studying and debating different international scenarios, in addition to their Model U.N. class, fundraising, and community service.

"I've really grown out of my shell with Model U.N. I'm more confident, and I don't shy away from voicing my opinions," said Natalie Acurio, a junior majoring in sociology with a minor in political science. "It's helpful, whatever your major."

Chase, a junior majoring in political science with a minor in philosophy, said the group's journey to France cemented their relationships. "It was a great experience to share with each other. I learned more about everyone; we created lifetime bonds."

Those relationships now span the globe, Heimstra noted. "Everyone was extremely welcoming. They were curious about what the U.S. was really like, compared to what they see in the media. I connected with people I will be friends with forever. It was a very world-broadening experience."

By Julie Waechter