Model UN prepares for success

The Model United Nations (Model UN) club at Norwich University (NU) is not only giving students a chance to hone their abilities as mock delegates in competition, but is also hosting on-campus events this year for students and faculty, according to club president Patrick Venetz.

Venetz, a 20-year-old junior criminal justice and Spanish double major from Old Forge, N.Y., said that this year the club plans to work with individual team members to develop their skills, so the team as a whole will prosper.

In Model UN, members are assigned a country and assume the standpoint of that country in relation to foreign and domestic policy issues. “It helps enforce research methods, debate skills and public speaking,” said Venetz.

P.Z. Matthews, 22, a senior political science major from Somerdale, N.J., has been participating in Model UN since he was a freshman in high school. “You gain a lot of useful study habits because you have to research intensively for competitions,” he said. “You are also able to perfect your public speaking skills and use of diction.”

The opportunity to learn public speaking is an advantage of joining Model UN. “I had trouble with public speaking before I joined,” said Matt Miller, 19, a computer security and information assurance major from Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Matthews, the training officer for the club and second year member, attempts to calm the nerves of those who are afraid to speak in public. “I try to make it so that even when you are in front of 300 people, it still only feels like you are talking to 20,” he said.

Model UN also attempts to prepare students for their future. Apart from gaining valuable public speaking skills, students also learn useful debating and conversation skills, according to Venetz and Matthews. “You are able to learn how to take a stance” Venetz said, “and then argue it intelligently and eloquently.”

Matthews said that he was able to have an educated conversation with a man from the State Department solely because of the skills he gained from Model United Nations. “I learned how to converse effectively,” Matthews said. “I am now able to stay in control of any conversation or debate I am in.”

Kyle Vu, 18, a freshman engineering management major from San Jose, Calif., hopes to learn how to speak in a more “audacious fashion,” whether it is in debate or everyday conversation.

“You have the public speaking part which really builds your confidence.” said Will Mistretta, 20, a junior studies of war and peace major and a third year member, from Jamestown, N.Y. “You are able to see what the world is like outside of your hometown and Norwich.”

Venetz, who shares a similar view with Mistretta, stated, “it challenges students to look at different situations outside of the American point-of-view.”

According to Venetz, the club takes a team of 20 members to two competitions every year. At these gatherings, the team will compete against other colleges and universities by defending their countries, and their unique viewpoints, all while effectively putting their public speaking and argumentative skills to the test.

“Our main competition is at Harvard over Valentines Day weekend,” he said, “it is a lot like our normal club meetings except that our entire team is assigned one country to represent.”

Venetz went on to explain that the team arrives at the competition with all the research they have done for the topics they will be debating on, which range from foreign policy to world health issues.

While the team has only earned honorable mentions in the past, this year the members are confident.

“Over the last six years we have received three honorable mentions,” Matthews said. “With the team we have this year, we have the potential to definitely win legitimate awards.”

Vu says he recognizes the skill-set the team has and “seriously expects to dominate at Harvard.”

This year, Model UN is not just talking foreign policy at meetings and competing nationally, but is hosting on-campus events for students and faculty as well, according to Venetz.

“So far we have planned a professor ‘roast’ for the night before reading day,” Venetz explained regarding the Dec. 10th event. “President Schneider has agreed to be the first person roasted.”

Matthews said that the event will consist of faculty members and staff essentially poking fun at the president and other professors as well.

“It is all in good humor,” he said, “students will get to blow off some steam before finals and laugh at the president, who is totally game for the event.”

Besides giving the students a fun event to attend before finals, Venetz hopes that it will shed more light on the club. “I’d like people to come to the event not only to see the roast, but to meet the club as well and ask us questions,” Venetz said, “ I hope that the roast will open the eyes of the Norwich campus to the type of fun the team has.”

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