It’s quite an accomplishment to be the best in the country, but it’s a whole different achievement to be the best in the world. Yale’s Model United Nations team has earned both distinctions.
The squad returned from the 10th annual World Model United Nations Conference in Istanbul, Turkey, last week with its seventh best-delegation award in a row. And this weekend another delegation from Yale’s team won its eighth consecutive best-delegation award at the Chicago Model United Nations Conference.
This team, composed of 33 Yale students, is on a winning streak of the highest magnitude. At the world conference, all Yale students competing won a best delegate award for best representing their nation in their assigned committees. This achievement was a first for the team and afforded them a standing ovation from other participants.
“[World Model United Nations] was a culmination of a year long effort,” said Yale International Relations Association Vice President Samir Kaushik ’02, who has won best delegate honors in six of the eight conferences in which he has participated while at Yale. “We had to fund raise, research and hold weekly meetings. In all, there was a lot of preparation. To see your fellow teammates go up and receive the same awards was amazing.”
The World Model United Nations is an international conference held in a different country each year and is organized by Harvard University and one college from the host country. The Yale team was one of only six American delegations, including teams from Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Pennsylvania and West Point, that competed among delegations from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe.
“The quality of the delegates at World Model United Nations is exceptionally good especially in terms of debate,” said Dipali Mukhopadhyay ’02, captain of the Model United Nations Team at Yale. “In my committee we dealt with the Serbia-Kosovo issue and the level of the knowledge of the delegates was extremely high, and it was mostly from experience. Most of the committee had either spent time in the Balkans, worked in the Balkans or worked in the refugee camps.”
While many delegations, like Oxford, represented their home country, the challenge for the 16-member Yale delegation to Istanbul was not only representing a different nation, New Zealand, but also a smaller country than the team was accustomed to representing. Unlike in preparation for previous conferences, the delegation was not able to visit the New Zealand permanent mission to the United Nations and instead relied primarily on Internet sources in addition to the U.N. Depository Library at Yale and topic papers distributed by Harvard.
“We were used to representing countries of the P5 [permanent five member countries of the U.N. Security Council: China, the United States, Great Britain, France and Russia],” Kaushik said. “But we were representing New Zealand, which added another dimension. We had to work hard to represent New Zealand and give the country a voice, and a voice that people would listen to. Doing that while winning the best delegation is quite an accomplishment.”
Yale’s win in Istanbul is only one of a long line of accomplishments for the team. In fact, the last time the Yale team did not win best delegation at a conference was in the fall of 1998 when they came in second.