Over 20 consecutive years of tradition continues for the Cal Poly Pomona National Model United Nations (Model UN) team, winner of the Distinguished Delegation Award at this year’s virtual simulation.
“I’m extra proud of this year’s team for maintaining that impressive record of success despite the disadvantages of the remote-learning environment, and although they did not get the trip to New York,” said faculty advisor and political science associate professor Marc Scarcelli.
This year, the 16-student delegation represented Malta and has been organizing since the spring semester of 2020. Students were assigned to committees, with two students serving on each one. Topics vary from nuclear weapons, refugees, development aid, pandemics, climate change, women’s rights, poverty, and more.
The students work closely together on research, writing, negotiation, collaboration, and preparing a position paper. Students are immersed in their research, and become a tightknit group. Being remote for the first time, there were concerns that the bonds wouldn’t come as naturally as they do in person.
“I always encourage and enjoy seeing the camaraderie among the students on the team. They really look out for each other, and I’ve seen many friendships form among them, some of which have lasted long beyond graduation. I was worried that the virtual environment would diminish that, but they still pulled together and created a fun, supportive, and meaningful experience,” said Scarcelli.
And many students share the same sentiment. As a result, the idea of taking their usual in-person preparation virtual came with some hesitation. However, despite the restrictions throughout the past year, the team pulled through and forged connections.
“Our team thrives on being together, from working together to keeping each other motivated, so it was odd not to be in the same room. But like most had to do this past year, we adapted and were able to properly prepare for the New York conference,” said Raisa Majid, political science major.
And while the CPP Model UN team fosters friendships, it is also one of the signature experiences within the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences. It allows students hands-on experience and strengthens critical skill sets such as public speaking, negotiation, teamwork, research, and writing. In addition, the immersive experience helps builds students’ confidence and gives them a platform to showcase all their hard work.
“After joining the team, I felt that it really helped me in many different aspects of life that weren’t just academic. While I can say that it did do a lot for my public speaking and research skills, I think the true beauty of the team was the social aspects of it. Joining helped me become more confident as a person and allowed me to find life-long friends. I truly meet some of the best people thanks to the team, and I’m grateful for that,” said Emely Vanegas, political science major.
Head Delegate and plant science major Janette Ly also found the experience played a vital role in her college experience and helped her academically and personally.
“I’ve gained invaluable communication skills that I have been able to apply to the professional and personal aspects of my life. Working alongside hundreds of students for an entire week requires patience, the ability to compromise, and conflict-resolution skills. Not only am I a better speaker because of this team, but I am also a better person,” Ly said.
“Last but certainly not least, this team has been the biggest support system in my life since I’ve started college. I found myself building friendships and confiding in my teammates and Dr. Scarcelli rather quickly, as a result of the shared passion that we all have for helping others and improving the world we live in. I know that I can always count on anyone on this team for a good laugh, a coffee run, a shoulder to cry on, or proofreading my lab reports.”
In spite of the unique experience, the lessons were valuable to all the delegates. They continued the commitment to excellence each team before has upheld—the long-standing tradition of being a top team in the country and award recipient at the annual conference.
“Despite having to learn an entirely new platform to participate in our National Conference, it was such an exciting experience that allowed me to connect with students from all over the world and ultimately awarded us the Distinguished Delegation Award,” said Sophia Aguirre, political science major.