A team of 18 Siena College students will board a bus Thursday, February 14, 8 a.m. in front of Siena Hall, to travel to Boston. The team is not going to play sports. Instead, they will try to resolve world problems, within a very constricted time frame of four days.
Siena’s Model UN Club will be representing The People’s Republic of Bangladesh at the Harvard International Model United Nations Conference.
The members of the vibrant Siena club — nine veterans, plus nine newcomers — have studied their assigned country’s policy positions and needs for months. When they determined questions, they went together to meet with counselors at the Bangladesh Permanent Mission to the United Nations, in New York City.
“I think a major challenge with Bangladesh is that it is severely overpopulated — one of the most densely populate nations in the world — and extremely poor,” says Brigette Nezami, who is Siena’s head delegate along with Megan Sweeney.
The People’s Republic of Bangladesh is still a fairly young nation, Nezami observes, and incurs problems that many new democracies face, such as fighting corruption and trying to ensure free elections.
Bangladesh also suffers from natural disasters including cyclones, hurricanes, tsunamis. And with rising sea levels each year, Nezami continues, “thousands of people are displaced, and waterborne diseases cause a large death toll.”
The Siena team’s preparations began last October. It’s a rigorous process. Checking accuracy and feasibility can be difficult, considering the state of development of a country, as well as the topics to be addressed: ranging from overpopulation, to sanitary potable water, to sustainable development.
From fall studies to the February conference’s back-and-forth negotiations and the concluding award ceremony (Siena students were recognized last year), the young delegates and their advisor approach the effort with enthusiasm.
“We recognize that either we soar as a team or we sink as individuals,” says advisor Dr. Leonard Cutler. “It’s a collective effort. During my 37 years of experience, our Siena College students in Model UN have excelled and been recognized by Harvard for commitment, dedication and effort: regardless of whom they represent.”
The Siena College Model UN team includes: Samantha Tymchyn and Craig Shepard, who’ll focus on Disarmament and International Security; Nicholas Hoffman and Mitchell McCaffery working on Economic and Financial matters; Erin Clune of the Executive Committee of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees; John Fitzsimmons and Lauren LaVare of the Legal Committee; Alyssa Irla and Keri Lynn Timlin for Social Humanitarian and Cultural matters; Kirl Santos and Craig Page, Special Political and Decolonization mtters; Enmanuel Rodriguez and Courtney Stefaniak, UN Development; Andrew Thurston, UN Human Rights; Kathleen Digan, World Health Organization; Megan Sweeney, World Summit on Children; and Hanok George, World Trade Organization.
At a final meeting on campus before the conference, Nezami led the team through procedural reminders. Don’t miss roll call or you miss voting. Decide your key topics in advance so no time is wasted during the four precious days in sessions. Save papers you craft, she added, for potential employers’ reference.
The Model UN Club displays devoted scholarship and effort. It also provides interaction with diverse, multicultiural world views, beyond that of other clubs, adds Nazimi. She’s president of the Chemistry Club as well; that group won a recent award for its National Chemistry Day booth at the New York State Museum.