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AUK Delegates Attend the Harvard National Model United Nations in Boston

The Harvard National Model United Nations (HNMUN) is a student based association that is affiliated with intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations and its agencies. Each February participants from around the world meet in Boston, Massachusetts, to take part in a 3- day conference. This year, a team of six students from the American University of Kuwait (AUK) travelled to the United States to take part in the 61st annual event, where they came together with the 3000+ students from 68 countries to participate, and the only team from the Gulf region.

AUK's MUN team is composed of Yasmine Abdulwahid, Mohammed Al-Saeed, Nourah Al-Sulaiman, Rolf Braathu, Ali Kelkawi and Paola Sedas, with Dr. Gholam R. Vatandoust, Associate Professor History, as their Faculty Advisor. Attending HNMUN provided the AUK students with an opportunity to acquaint themselves with the rules of parliamentary procedures, such as making procedural and substantive motions, writing and presenting resolutions and working within the norms of international diplomacy; it gave them the opportunity to measure themselves internationally against the world's best and the brightest.

Yasmine is the Vice President of the AUK chapter of the Model United Nations. She said that she felt grateful for the support AUK has provided the team with in preparation for the trip. "I'm also very proud of my delegates who came along and provided their time and effort to represent our country and our university," she added. Her teammates expressed similar sentiments. Paola Sedas, one of AUK's international students commented that "on the whole, it was an experience I do not regret, in spite of the snow storm, and I would encourage all young debaters to attend international conferences to get a real life exposure of what a career in Politics or International Relations would be like."

At HNMUN, the AUK team represented Poland. Yasmine Abdulwahid, Vice President of MUNAUK, and fellow student Rolf Braathu, assumed the roles of committee members of the World Health Organization. Paola Sedas and Nourah Al-Sulaiman were part of the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee of the General Assembly, while Ali Kelkawi and Mohammed Al-Saeed were members of the Futuristic Commission on Space Development under the Economic and Social Council. Professor Gholamreza R. Vatandoust of the International Relations department served as the academic advisor for the team.

That was not the first time the team participated in an international MUN conference. In November 2014, a team of 13 students travelled to Bahrain to participate in the Bahrain Universities MUN conference with Dana Taqi, Senior Coordinator for Alumni Affairs, as advisor. The conference took place in the Sheraton Hotel, Manama, and was open to participants from universities within the GCC.

Ali Kelkawi, the current transitional Student Council Vice President at AUK, was part of the Economic and Social Council representing Canada. His commission sponsored a resolution on the prevention of Juvenile Delinquency and Agricultural Development and Food Security. Ali received an honorable mention for his performance and debating the resolution on Juvenile Delinquency.

Nourah Al-Sulaiman participated in the General Assembly representing Indonesia. She was a co-submitter of a resolution that was finally approved, and won a Diplomacy Award for her work. Rolf H. Braathu, also represented Indonesia, but in the International Atomic Energy Agency, focused on the peaceful use of nuclear power. He also won a Diplomacy Award for his engagement in drafting a resolution that was approved.

"The major problem facing most universities is funding, particularly from economically pressed countries," said Dr. Vatandoust. "Limited numbers of scholarships are available for individuals and delegates. By brining students together from across the world and having them engage in the art of negotiations and diplomacy, the real goal is to help build human capital for the future of the international community."

Model UN is a long standing tradition for many universities where credit hours are granted for preparation and competition at the annual events. MUNAUK is registered as a student club. Over the past 5 years, the club has been funded and endorsed by the Office of Student Life and supported by the International Relations Department which, according to Dr. Vatandoust, aims to support MUNAUK both financially and academically in order to prepare the team for future competitions.

Images from the event

Released by the Office of Public Affairs on the 30th March 2015

Photography by the Office of Public Affairs (C) 2015

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