By Noah Sain
What comes to mind when you think about travel and academics? The SPC Model United Nations team is a hidden gem of Saint Petersburg College. It is an incredibly beneficial and exciting academic opportunity that you may not have heard of. The Model UN team is a competitive academic team that any SPC student can apply for. The team takes three different trips, all paid for by SPC, every year. The team has been to Gainesville, Washington DC, New York, the Netherlands, and they will be traveling to the Czech Republic in the Fall semester of 2015.
“It’s one of the most intense academic simulations that you can be involved in,” says Earl Fratus, a head faculty member of the team. The Model UN goes to competitions and works with Model UN teams from schools all over the world to draft solutions to international problems. The students take the role of delegates assigned to represent a country that is part of the United Nations, so the students really have to do their research and understand the country’s stance on world issues.
Lea Jarnberg is a student who has been on the SPC Model UN team for one semester. “It’s basically a mock United Nations,” says Lea. The United Nations is an organization where nations meet to address global issues that could impact everyone. “We go to conference, which mimics what the United Nations does. Teams of students from all around the world go in with position papers, which are our country’s stance on a topic, and we work for a final goal that all of the countries can come together and agree on.”
Most members of the team have an interest in politics, national affairs, foreign policies, and so on, in mind for their career focus. However, Amy Currotto is a member of the team who was originally going for a music major until she joined the Model UN team. She changed her major to business and has discovered a love for politics and business through the Model UN.
The application process is an extremely competitive process; there may be 30 or 40 people interested in joining the team, but only 18 will be chosen.
Earl Fratus is one of the five faculty members that helps organize the SPC Model UN team. The team at SPC was founded in 2010 by Professor Heather Roberson. Fratus was initially asked to start the team; however at the time he was Faculty Senate President, so his plate was full. Shortly after it was founded, Fratus became involved with the Model UN team.
This year the team’s country that they will be representing is the Republic of Macedonia. The team will be traveling to New York this semester. Before the team travels to conference in New York there is much to be done. There are three major things that the team will do to get ready for New York. First, the members of the team should understand the issues of the country because they have to stay in character as delegates from the Republic of Macedonia.
Fratus says, “The students have to understand the complexities of representing the country that they’re assigned. So here are students from Florida, they’re United States citizens, but they have to take on the role of delegates from the Republic of Macedonia.”
Within the United Nations are various committees whose job is to address specific issues such as AIDS, women’s rights, social and economic development, and so on. The members of the team will be grouped together in groups of two, which are assigned to a committee. Secondly, the groups of the team need to know the three topics that their committee will be focusing on and they need to research the topics so that they are prepared to debate and draft solutions. And finally, to get ready for conference in New York, the team does what are called simulations, where they work with team members to simulate what the conference will be like in New York. This way, they can practice working with other delegates and practice getting their ideas passed.
If you are serious about your education and like to travel, the Model United Nations might be just the thing for you.
If you are interested in joining the team or would like more information, visit http://www.spcollege.edu/modelun, where you can contact a faculty member.
Header photo courtesy of Model UN Facebook page.