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NMSU's Model U.N. team returns from China with awards, 'life-changing experience'

New Mexico State University's Model United Nations team returned from China with three awards, a taste for authentic Chinese cuisine and the memories of having walked on the Great Wall of China.

New Mexico State University's Model UN team visited the Great Wall of China when they competed in November in Beijing. Top row, left to right are: Owen Cortner, Fatah Hafassa, Talia Lapid, David Diamond, Erica Williams, Caraline Murphy, Carli Romero, Andrea Gomolak and Laruen Aragon. Bottom row, left to right are: Amanda James, head delegate, and Kathryn James.

The team received awards for Outstanding Position Papers as well as an honorable mention for the team that represented Indonesia. Fatah Hafassa garnered his position-paper award representing Algeria in the General Assembly, and Erica Williams garnered her award for her paper representing Algeria on the Economic and Social Council.

"The team is judged on how well they stay in character and represent the countries they are assigned," said Jason Ackleson, the faculty advisor for the team and an associate professor in the department of government at NMSU. "They are also judged on a pre-written position paper on a topic within their committees."

NMSU's Model U.N. team was named "Outstanding Delegation" at the National Model United Nations 290-school competition held in New York City in spring of 2008. In addition to their first place award, the 12-student team was given the "Outstanding Position Paper" award, which recognizes excellence in preparatory research for the New York conference.

In November, the government department and NMSU's International Relations Institute sponsored a benefit dinner to raise funds for the team to go to China.

"Going to China was a life-changing experience," said team member Andrea Gomolak. "It was full of generous people who want to open China to the rest of the world."

"Our showing in China further validates the strength of the program with this recognition on the international stage," Ackleson said. The MUN team will travel to New York City in spring 2009 with some new team members and some returning members.

"This was a big success and we will look forward to doing additional international conferences in the future," Ackleson said.