|The 2009 Model UN Team|
For the National Model United Nations team, working together is crucial. Each spring since 1977, Cal Poly Pomona has sent a delegation to New York City to participate in this international simulation, which takes place at the United Nations Headquarters and at a nearby hotel.
“Teamwork, in the most exact sense, is essential,” says professor John Moore, the group's advisor. “I often use the analogy of a collegiate basketball team when cajoling the students to perform at levels higher than they ever imagined for themselves. The key is that we are seeking to perform as a group.”
As such, the students are required to take a preparatory class, but Moore says it is not a normal course. “Students are not in competition with one another for limited high grades. Rather, all students must
perform at their highest potential for the sake of the team and the university. Successful students understand this demand.”
And they also must be quick studies, Moore adds.
“Within a bare 10 weeks, students must gain a complete understanding of the UN, gain a full understanding of the country they represent, become sophisticated experts on current world affairs, hone dexterous skills as professional diplomats, write the best research paper and sustain a mature sense of humor and an ability to roll with the punches,” he says. “And then we go to New York, where the pressure really mounts.
“We simply have to perform as a team, with each student being committed to all others. It is tough, but our delegates seem to do quite well.”
Quite well indeed. Cal Poly Pomona has won numerous awards since 1977 and has established a reputation for outstanding participation. At the 2008 competition, the university's team took home the Outstanding Delegation Award, the highest honor presented by the national conference, which attracts more than 4,000 students from universities and colleges from about 25 countries. In addition, that team won the university's sixth Outstanding Position Paper Award.
The 2009 team, which represented Slovakia this spring, was accorded an Honorable Mention for participation and another Outstanding Position Paper award.
From computers to horses, cars to diplomacy, co-curricular activities at Cal Poly Pomona help students develop important qualities, such as leadership, discipline and self confidence. Most important, students learn to work successfully with a team. This article is the part of a series that spotlights teamwork in action at Cal Poly Pomona.