Several students grabbed high honors in the international competition that drew 2,000 participants to New York.
(Back row left to right) Scott Novak ’15, Gabrielle Masse ’16, Dinah Lakehal ’18, Camilo Garzon ’15, Avani Mooljee ’16, Brittany Edwards ’18, Christopher Stephenson ’18, and Julia Porcher ’15. (Front row left to right) Scotty David ’16, Ruzgar Zere ’18, and Milita Rana ’16MBA. (Photo courtesy of Camilo Garzon ’15)
For the second year in a row, Rollins College’s Model United Nations team turned in an excellent performance. A recent event, the Change the World Model United Nation conference, brought about 2,000 students from 100 countries together in New York to hash out political issues in a pressure-packed atmosphere.
Camilo Garzon ’15, who helped restart the Rollins program in 2013 and acted as a mentor this year, was proud of the showing. He said the intense discussions and passionate arguments help students learn to deal with people who hold deeply entrenched beliefs that may be diametrically opposed to their own.
“This brings people out of their comfort zone to learn new things,” says Garzon, who is finishing a double major in religion and philosophy this semester.
The competition, in which students represent various countries, is full of spirited debate that often includes multiple positions on an issue, not just pro or con. “You have to be a pluralist,” Garzon says. “You can’t be certain that you are always right. You have to strive to make things better for everyone.”
A glimpse inside of the of the Change the World Model United Nation conference room. (Photo courtesy of Camilo Garzon ’15)
Garzon was part of the conference staff this year and directed the Security Council (SC) for universities. He also credited the Rollins Model UN advisers—Director of International Student and Scholar Services Jenifer Ruby and Director of International Programs Giselda Beaudin—for helping the organization regain its momentum at Rollins.
For Julia Porcher ’16—who along with Gabrielle Masse ’16 was named the Best Delegation for the G-8 group—the competition was fun. However, it was not the most important experience at the convention.
“It’s not the competition itself that’s exciting, but more so making connections with students around the state, country, and even the world,” Porcher says. “We all have this drive to make the world a better place, and that’s really something special.”
She came to appreciate the challenge of debating under difficult conditions. “You definitely gain verbal communication skills,” says Porcher, who is president of the Rollins Model UN. “You’re pretty much forced to speak in front of a crowd, but it’s something that you learn from and eventually, you’re very comfortable with, especially when you’re debating a topic you’re passionate about.”
Rollins student representatives in the Model UN conference room.(Photo courtesy of Camilo Garzon ’15)
Porcher also noted that the United Nations remains a stable platform for discussion in a rapidly changing world. “It’s so important because we live in a globalized world where we can’t just be focused only on what we, individually, are doing,” the international relations major said. “We have to look at everything from an international standpoint and how our actions could affect those near and far around us.”
Both Porcher and Garzon said they loved being in New York during an unexpected snowstorm. Porcher had never seen snow before and Garzon said he had never actually seen it fall down out of the skies. They enjoyed the white winter scenes that greeted them in March.
The group braves the snow in New York City. (Photo courtesy of Camilo Garzon ’15)
“We just starting scooping it off of mailboxes and benches and throwing it at each other,” Porcher says. “It was a lot of fun but awkward when we accidentally hit someone with snow who wasn’t a part of our group.”
Of course, being skilled diplomats and negotiators, they kept the incident from escalating.
Other Rollins Honorees and Participants
Scott Novak ’15 – Best Delegate for the Security Council
Julia Porcher ’15 and Gabrielle Masse ’16 – Best Delegation for the G-8
Milita Rana ’16MBA – Best Delegate for the G-20
Ruzgar Zere ’18 – Honorable Mention in the Security Council 2030.
The Rollins participants and delegation representatives also included Scotty David ’16, Brittany Edwards ’18, Dinah Lakehal ’18, Avani Mooljee ’16, and Christopher Stephenson ’18. In addition to being part of the delegation, Mooljee was a conference staff member and director of the World Health Organization (WHO) for universities.