What the Alma College Model UN Program Has Done for Me
Editor’s note: Aditya Shankar is a junior at Alma College from Noida, Utter Pradesh, India. He wrote this blog about his experiences participating with Alma College’s “powerhouse” Model United Nations teams.
It is hard to formulate my experience and relationship with Model UN, especially the Model UN program at Alma College. I have indirectly been a part of the program since I was a student in Grade 8, when students from Alma College came to my high school in India to teach us about Model UN and conduct our first-ever high school conference. This program helped me understand the importance of solving global problems and motivated me to strive towards becoming a proactive global citizen.
The lessons learnt and the exposure provided to me by the students and their stories of volunteer experiences were inspiring. Their efforts to make the world a better place and Alma’s unwavering support in assisting them to that were an important part of my decision in enrolling at Alma College. Thankfully, my experience with Dr. Sandy Hulme and the Alma College’s support towards my goals and ambitions have been as strong as they had described to me. The Model UN program continues to push me to my limits and provides me with a holistic learning journey.
Model UN classes and conferences
Unlike many other colleges around the world, Model UN isn’t just a club or an extracurricular activity at Alma College. Dr. Hulme fully invests in each and every student by making this experience a credit-bearing class. This helps us by providing us an opportunity to take lesser classes and at the same time continue our pursuit of global advocacy without burning out.
It is a weekly class that occurs every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Dr. Hulme guides us through the various important tasks that we need to perform while we are in conference. We also participate in multiple simulations to assimilate ourselves with the Model UN conference rules and procedures. These classes also help us in developing multiple other skills that we can use after our time at Alma College.
My favorite activity during MUN class are speech practice sessions. These have greatly benefitted my ability to communicate effectively with minimal pauses and interruptions. We also create binders and position papers, which sharpen our research abilities and assist us in getting a deeper understanding of the global problem that we hope to tackle in our conferences.
Our team participates in two Model UN conferences a year. The first is the Midwest Model United Nations Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, and the second is the National Model United Nations (NMUN) Conference in New York City.
The NMUN Conference is the oldest and biggest Model UN Conference in the world, which started in 1927 and now has participants from over 130 countries. The Alma College Model UN team has been winning Outstanding Delegation Awards — the highest accolade which can be received by a participating team — for the last 25 years. Our team is the only one that has been able to hold that record.
Participating in these conferences has expanded my understanding of different cultures and alternate thought patterns by interacting with students from around the world. It has further strengthened my pursuit of supporting nations around the world in whatever capacity I can.
The world beyond Alma
A major reason for a lot of my friends in colleges around the world have not been able to create a larger impact than in their immediate vicinity is the lack of financial support. However, that is not a problem I have, thanks to the Posey Global Leadership Fellows Program. This program has assisted me by providing me with the financial support that I need to pursue my goals of becoming an effective global citizen.
During my NMUN conference in 2019, I learnt about the importance of highlighting the voices of vulnerable groups in Least Developed Countries (LDCs). This agenda appealed to me, being a person of color and an international student, I can understand the helplessness that comes along with not being heard. However, I did not know how I could help. Through Dr. Hulme’s assistance, I was able to travel to Sierra Leone, the eighth-poorest country in the world, to showcase the lives of the forgotten. I spent half a month in a children’s orphanage and the other half in a hospital that treated wounded individuals with minimal financial strength. I used my knowledge in videography to create two videos, showcasing the lives of the minorities in both those locations.
At the orphanage, I created a short documentary that brought into the limelight, the lives of kids that lost their parents to the Ebola epidemic when they were little kids. This documentary aims to show their dreams and hopes, along with the orphanage manager’s insight onto what life looks like on the other side for these children. At the City Garden Clinic Garden in Makeni, I captured the lives of the patients through multiple short videos that travel miles and miles to receive treatment from this clinic.
In 2022, I was provided the opportunity to intern at Community Systems Foundation, a United Nations-recognized NGO that aims to support nations reach their Sustainable Development Goals by providing them with technical solutions. Through this opportunity I was able to understand the inner workings of a global humanitarian organization which is assisting countries around the world. I was also able to visit the UN and understand the relationship that it shares with supporting organizations around the world.
My journey with the Alma College Model UN team, particularly Dr. Derick Hulme, has been the best time of my life. These three years have provided me with ample growth and personal development. These experiences have shaped me into the man I am today and it would not have been possible without the support of my professors and the college.
Learn more about Alma’s outstanding Model UN team during Model UN Day, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, March 9, at Alma College. For more information, visit alma.edu/visit.