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Northeastern delegation nabs top honors

There aren’t often clear win­ners and losers in inter­na­tional pol­i­tics. But at the Inter­na­tional Model NATO Con­fer­ence in Wash­ington, D.C. ear­lier this month, a group of North­eastern stu­dents came out vic­tors.

Northeastern’s Inter­na­tional Rela­tions Council, which also runs model Arab League and United Nations pro­grams, fielded two del­e­ga­tions rep­re­senting the United Kingdom and Lithuania in the inter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion. The event fea­tured teams of col­lege stu­dents from across the United States, Canada, the UK, Italy and Bel­gium.

The UK del­e­ga­tion placed first overall out of 26 teams from a total of 21 schools, while the Lithuanian del­e­ga­tion came in fifth. North­eastern also won all six awards handed out by fac­ulty, who judged how effec­tively stu­dent del­e­gates worked to address inter­na­tional issues during the mock NATO ses­sion.

“I think we did very well, and we’re very proud of how our teams per­formed,” said Matt Cournoyer, a senior polit­ical sci­ence major and the head del­e­gate for the UK group. “Both our North­eastern del­e­ga­tions demon­strated a well-​​researched under­standing of inter­na­tional issues and British and Lithuanian policy and were able to effec­tively lead dis­cus­sions and debates in the com­mittee ses­sions.”

At the start of the three-​​day con­fer­ence that wrapped up on Feb. 19, North­eastern stu­dents had a chance to meet with diplo­mats from the coun­tries they rep­re­sented, which included trav­eling to the British Embassy to dis­cuss for­eign policy and NATO-​​related issues. (Though the Lithuanian Embassy was closed due to the nation’s inde­pen­dence day, Northeastern’s del­e­ga­tion was able to meet with embassy offi­cials ahead of the com­pe­ti­tion.)

Northeastern’s del­e­ga­tions have been preparing since early fall to com­pete at the Inter­na­tional Model NATO, said Philip D’Agati, fac­ulty advisor to the Inter­na­tional Rela­tions Council and an aca­d­emic spe­cialist in the polit­ical sci­ence depart­ment.

“It is a great source of pride for us to all to rep­re­sent Northeastern’s record of excel­lence in expe­ri­en­tial edu­ca­tion by win­ning this top honor in an inter­na­tional con­fer­ence,” D’Agati said.

For North­eastern stu­dents, the com­pe­ti­tion pro­vided the oppor­tu­nity to turn a polit­ical issue from across the globe into a tan­gible real-​​world lesson.

“The topics dis­cussed at this con­fer­ence are highly rel­e­vant to what’s going on in the world,” said Ken Lewis, a senior polit­ical sci­ence and eco­nomics dual major and the head Lithuanian del­e­gate. “Being able to debate with fellow stu­dents about issues ripped straight from the news­paper head­lines is a thrilling feeling. After the con­fer­ence, these cur­rent events no longer seem vague and abstract, but instead feel real and urgent.”

– by Matt Collette

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