Over spring break, Yale students topped an array of international competitors in simulating the United Nations.
Eleven members of Yale’s Model United Nations team earned first place at the World Model United Nations Conference, tying the delegation from West Point.
Yale’s team was recognized for excellence in diplomacy in seven out of the 10 committees in which it competed. Harvard University, which always sponsors the conference, selected Universitat Heidelberg to host this year’s conference in Heidelberg, Germany, from March 22 to 27.
The Yalies on winning committees were David Gershkoff ’06, John Babtie ’04, Julie Edelstein ’04, Fang Chen ’03, Tess Monaghan ’06, Myles Campbell ’06, Lily Han ’03 and Alnawaz Jiwa ’06.
Oliver Libby, a senior at Harvard and the deputy secretary-general of the conference, said he was “proud” to award Yale first place.
“People who show outstanding skills in diplomacy are awarded for their performance,” Libby said.
With over 30 countries represented, Libby said he is always amazed at how smoothly the conference runs.
Babtie, the head delegate of Yale’s team, said his initial impression at the conference’s conclusion was that Yale would get third place.
“I wasn’t expecting us to win,” Babtie said. “I knew it was going to be close.”
Winning, however, is not new to Yale’s delegation.
“We win a lot of these,” Babtie said. “We’ve now won 11 of our last 17 conferences.”
The Yale team’s fund-raising director Samir Kaushik ’03 said through the generosity of many donors, ranging from residential college masters’ offices to the Yale International Relations Association, the cost for each delegate was kept to a mere $50.
Kaushik said the key to success at a conference is to be diplomatic and to get along with other delegates.
Monaghan said while speaking quickly is also desirable at domestic conferences, she was asked to slow down at this conference because many participants did not speak English as their first language.
“Most of the people who participate are very good at English but not necessarily fluent,” Monaghan said.
Jennifer Carter ’05 said it was especially interesting to go to the conference during the war with Iraq. She said she enjoyed being around a diverse group of people her own age with whom she could discuss international issues.
“I think it’s a pretty pivotal point as far as [the United Nations’] role in international relations,” Carter said.
Jiwa said the diversity of the conference impressed him. The conference, in which every continent except Antarctica was represented, was “completely different” from any other in which he has participated, he said.
Delegates from other schools surrounded Yale delegates during informal and unmoderated caucuses to work out their issues, Jiwa said.
“It was a really rewarding feeling knowing we were the best delegation in the world,” Jiwa said. “You want to win for Yale because Yale is such an amazing place.”