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COC students excel at Model U.N.

Posted: March 24, 2008 2:12 a.m.
Updated: May 25, 2008 5:03 a.m.
What inspires someone to become a lawyer, a politician, or a public speaker - jobs that require much training and responsibility?

Sometimes all it takes is a setting that facilitates practice and confidence.

Twelve students represented College of the Canyons at the California Model United Nations Conference earlier this month. Out of 19 participating schools, COC was second only to California State University, Northridge, receiving three awards.

COC students Adiam Negash Kebedom, Ryan Harvey, and Josh Preston - all conference first-timers - brought home the awards.

Kebedom won an outstanding Research Writing Award for a position paper presented to the Economic and Social Council. She was also diplomatically active representing South Korea in the committee's efforts in fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals. Attending this conference gave Kebedom assurance and confidence in her goal to become a lawyer.

"I found out that I really love it," Kebedom said. "I want to protect the rights of others."

Ryan Harvey was also awarded an Outstanding Research Writing Award for a paper presented to the Organization of American States. During the conference, he was part of the Canadian committee seeking to reconcile issues of free trade and sustainable development.

According to David Andrus, assistant professor of Political Science at COC, Harvey interacted well with a committee holding diverse viewpoints, exhibited strong interpersonal skills and had a commanding presence. Harvey said the conference showed him what he is capable of.

"Our school could compete with any school," Harvey said.

Harvey said he also gained confidence in his speaking ability and a desire to pursue a career where he can interact with people.

The highest award a committee can offer at the conference, the Outstanding Delegates Award, was given to Josh Preston for his work on the Economic and Social Council. Representing the United Kingdom, Preston advocated debt relief for developing nations while maintaining a realistic policy position.

Andrus said that Preston demonstrated great resourcefulness and quick thinking given that he only had five minutes to prepare for the role of an ambassador, a role that included debriefing the Security Council on emerging international crisis. As a political studies major, this conference cemented Preston's affinity for international affairs.

"I found out a lot about myself," Preston said, including the fact that he could run for president of the United States. "This conference made me open to international affairs."

The Model UN Conference gives students the opportunity to discuss and work through pertinent world issues. The students propose resolutions addressing regional conflicts, peacekeeping operations, human rights conflicts, women and children issues, economic and social development, and the environment.

"It showed the students how hard it is to have agreements within international conferences," Andrus said. "You have to deal with the world."

In the midst of these propositions and papers, the students learn to build skills in diplomacy. On a broader level, they also build confidence in public speaking and a greater understanding of parliamentary procedure.

Among their many other achievements that day, all three students sponsored and drafted a UN resolution that was adopted by their respective committees. According to the students, the conference was both enjoyable and educational and they took from it lessons that will influence that rest of their lives.


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