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Triumph of Diplomacy

It didn’t take long for a team of 19 Northeastern social sciences students to get into character for the Model NATO Conference last month in Washington, D.C.

After dividing into two teams of delegates representing Belgium or Hungary, the student-diplomats made a strong showing at the mock North Atlantic Treaty Organization proceeding.

In its premiere showing at the event, the Northeastern team representing Belgium nabbed second place overall and the team representing Hungary came in fifth.  Students from 22 universities from throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Italy comprised the 28 teams.

Nine Northeastern students received outstanding delegate awards and two of the delegates earned committee leadership awards.

“We have very high standards for ourselves,” said Noreen Leahy, a third year environmental studies major who was the head delegate for Hungary at the conference. “We’ll use the knowledge we gained there as a learning experience and will perform even better next year.”

The four-day simulation of the NATO alliance proceeding was augmented by pre-conference study and briefings at embassies of NATO member states in Washington, D.C. The competition provides an opportunity for university and college students to study the role, structure and activities of NATO, as well as the military, political-security, economic and social issues facing the organization.

Model NATO is one of three United Nations Association’s leagues. Northeastern students also participate in the Model UN and Model Arab League, explained Philip D’Agati, a lecturer in the department of political science and advisor to all three UNA leagues.

But the students said that Model NATO was different. “It required us to use different strategic concepts than the other models,” said Catia Sharp, a third-year international affairs and environmental studies combined major, who was the head delegate for Belgium and is also president of Northeastern’s UNA chapter. “It was wonderful to see the group translate their knowledge from Arab League and Model UN and apply it in innovative ways to our participation at the Model NATO conference.”

Northeastern’s model leagues meet weekly and are complemented by Model UN, Model NATO and Model Arab League courses offered by the political science department. The leagues are competitive, and “the students who participate are exceedingly passionate,” said D’Agati.

For example, last fall, students decided to continue their Model NATO class during finals week, after the semester had officially ended. “Each class ends only after a vote to suspend or adjourn and that day, and the motion failed,” said D’Agati. “Twenty-six students voted to have another week of class so we could continue our conversation.”

“In a global arena, the United Nations Association at Northeastern is one of the most competitive,” said Georges Van Den Abbeele, dean of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities. “These programs are paramount to the university’s commitment to experiential and international education. We are very proud of our students’ continued successes.”

– By Samantha Fodrowski

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