PC program earns two 'Best Delegate' wins for Ainslie Lane at the Southern Regional Model United Nations conference this spring

PC program earns two ‘Best Delegate’ wins for Ainslie Lane at the Southern Regional Model United Nations conference this spring

PC’s delegation to the Student Model U.N. fall conference in Atlanta, Ga.

by Sarah Murphy

How do we stabilize developing economies amid global political unrest?

In what ways can we improve the systems in place to assist the families of missing migrants?

What needs to be done in order to ensure an equal gender perspective in economic and social policies for sustainable development?

Student delegates found themselves faced with these challenging, real-world topics at the 2023 Southern Regional Model United Nations (SRMUN) conference, March 23-25 in Charlotte, N.C.

Four Presbyterian College students participated in the conference as delegates from the United Arab Emirates: senior Ainslie Lane, president; junior Ryan Seubarran, secretary; junior Dakota Price, vice president; and sophomore Gabriella Brinez-Parsi. At the close of the conference, Ainslie Lane was recognized with the Best Delegate honor — an award she also received at the conference last fall in Atlanta, Ga.

As Model UN participants and conference attendees, these students put into action the skills they have been honing under the guidance of Dr. David Liu, political science professor and PC Model UN faculty advisor. Public speaking, global event awareness, problem solving, team collaboration and persuasive writing — these practical skills are tested every day in Model UN. The experiential approach to learning and hands-on career preparedness is also guiding the revised curriculum in the political science department at PC, ensuring students have the opportunity to amass first-hand experience long before they are handed their diploma.

An Enriching Conference Experience

The SRMUN conference, which is held three times annually, brings together collegiate delegates from across the United States to simulate an actual United Nations conference. Students are tasked with solving global issues through research, drafting, lobbying and debate. The delegates must come together to develop and pass a suitable resolution, engaging in an enriching, collaborative experience along the way.

“You really hit the ground running as soon as you arrive,” said Ainslie Lane. “I spent more than 21 hours in debate this spring and wrote seven draft resolutions. You’re debating topics, giving speeches, writing draft resolutions, listening to other delegates, coming up with compromises. It’s jam packed with so many things to do.”

In the weeks leading up to each event, PC students prepare by learning the conference format, writing draft papers and practicing speaking. They also read the news 24/7 — Lane has push notifications activated on her phone for global events, anything from bankruptcy in Sri Lanka to cartel violence in Haiti.

“It’s been a huge learning process for me from my first conference to just now finishing my last,” said Lane. “At my first conference, I wanted to be the one who was speaking the most. I wanted everyone to agree with what I was saying, trying to push my country’s wants and needs. But after more experience and time spent learning about the United Nations, I realized this isn’t the goal of Model UN. The goal is to come up with a compromise that benefits the global community, not just your country. I learned that it’s most productive to be a really good listener.”

At the close of the March 2023 conference, Lane was awarded SRMUN Best Delegate — an honor she had also received at the fall 2022 conference in Atlanta. The fall 2022 conference was the first in-person SRMUN since the pandemic.

“This is a great accomplishment for Ainslie,” said Liu. “She is a dedicated student, who spent an enormous amount of time and energy on studying global issues, taking courses on international politics within the political science discipline, and preparing herself for each conference.”

“I was, of course, excited about the awards, but I think the real accomplishment is being able to compromise with other people and helping other delegates be heard,” said Lane. “I also needed to apply knowledge from so many different political science classes at PC during the conference. Being able to reference information and skills that I learned makes me confident that PC has very well prepared me for a career after I graduate.”

Experiential Learning through Model UN

Model UN is now more than just a one-credit elective program at PC. Along with the South Carolina Student Legislature (SCSL), Model UN has been weaved into the formal political science curriculum and is now available as a three-credit course. Similar to Model UN, the SCSL delegation at PC recently completed a legislative simulation in Columbia.

“The Model UN program is an important initiative in our revised political science curriculum at PC, which emphasizes hands-on and experiential learning,” says Liu. “As a faculty member, I am grateful that PC continues to support this program to help broaden our students’ horizons and prepare them for a globalized world.”

In order to participate in Model UN, PC students are now required to take PLSC 1002: Introduction to World Politics (this can be waived if students have taken other similar courses on international politics). New delegates are then enrolled in a three-credit course (PLSC 2002: Model UN) to help prepare them for participation in the SRMUN conference. Veteran delegates also have the option to enroll in PLSC 2004: Advanced Model UN for one credit hour, which is counted as a general elective.

In Fall 2022, students CG Bertrand, Brinez-Pardo, Wes Corbett, Raf Guerra, Lane, Price, Hannah Rikabi, and Seubarran represented India and Sweden at the SRMUN conference in Atlanta.

Participation in programs like Model UN and SCSL has proven to be a valuable experiential learning opportunity for students, allowing them to take what they study and learn on campus and apply it firsthand outside of the classroom. The experience they earn as they prepare for careers in public service is invaluable.

“I always tell students that our objective is not to win, but to work with others to ensure that we are all better off because of international cooperation,” said Liu. “In this sense, awards are recognitions of their leadership and willingness to work with others, rather than simply prizes. I am confident that our team will continue to bring to these conferences our signature PC academic rigor and our dedication to public service.”

Students from all academic disciplines are invited to participate in Model UN. For more information, visit the program website or contact Dr. David Liu via email: zliu@presby.edu.