Gannon holds Model U.N. event


Instead of watching Netflix late at night on a Friday or sleeping in on a Saturday, some students would rather dress up, represent a country and debate on solutions to some of the world’s immediate problems.
Gannon University hosted its 64th Model United Nations conference on Saturday and Sunday. This is an annual event put together by the Model U.N. club and various faculty members to allow high school students to simulate the actual United Nations conferences.
Students from 21 high schools in the tri-state area participated in this year’s conference. Approximately 450 students came in on Friday night to take part in the longest-running Model U.N. conference in the country and the second oldest Model U.N. in the world.
Each student is tasked with presenting his or her country’s perspectives on a specific topic in their committee. This year’s topics included health crisis, economic fraud, protecting international migrants and climate change, among many others. At the end of the conference several individual and country awards were given to delegates that did the best work in their committee.
Anjali Sahay, Ph.D., an associate professor in the political science department and faculty moderator of the Model U.N. conference, said that it is exciting to pretend to be a world leader solving the world’s problems in just two days.
“Students attend Model U.N. conferences because it’s fun — they just happen to learn something along the way,” Sahay said. “When students have fun while learning, what they learn is more likely to stick.”
Sahay also said that she gets to play a role in leadership training with the Gannon students.
“Students develop confidence and leadership skills through experience,” Sahay said.
Katherine Greissinger, the secretary general of the Model U.N. club and a senior biology major, reiterated the importance of competing in and facilitating the Model U.N. conference. She acknowledged that both the Gannon and high school students gain various skills such as crisis management, teamwork, cooperation and even budgeting by participating in the event.
Greissinger said that every part of the event is run by Gannon students for the high school participants. Planning for the conference began in January.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s exciting to see the reward in the end,” Greissinger said.
Model U.N. brings together students with various backgrounds and intended career goals, but Greissinger expressed that they all have one thing in common: “The mind-set of ‘what can we do to make our future better?’”
Mari Lohitai, a freshman foreign language and government option major, competed in Gannon’s Model U.N. conference as a high school student for three years. This year she served as sergeant-at-arms at the conference for a committee this past weekend. Being on the other side of the conference has been a different kind of learning experience for her.
“Since we are planning, we learn more about the procedures so we can judge properly,” Lohitai said.
The Model U.N. club has met weekly since September to teach Gannon students about the rules and procedures that they need to know for the conference.
When Lohitai first joined the club, she was not sure what to expect, but through the club she has been able to engage with fellow students beyond the confines of an ordinary classroom setup.
“It was surprising to see how many people [who] have never done Model U.N. join the club,” Lohitai said.
The club invites anyone with an interest in global affairs to take part in Model U.N. Sahay said that it is important to communicate with students that they do not have to be a political science major to join.
“In this era of globalization, learning about the world is more important than ever,” Sahay said. No matter what field or profession students enter, they will interact with people from different countries and diverse backgrounds.
“Problems taking place halfway around the globe impact our lives, our country and our communities.”
Lohitai also said that there is something for everyone to participate in.
“There are many positions you can take,” Lohitai said. “You do not have to be up in front of people if you do not want to be.”
The club hopes to provide opportunities for Gannon students to attend college-level competitions in the near future.
Those interested in joining the Model U.N. club can contact Sahay at [email protected]
“[When you join the club] you are part of something big,” Sahay said. “This is what sets people apart in the employment world; you are part of a legacy.”

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