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NMSU Model U.N. team wins big at annual national conference

March Madness.

Group of 25 people facing the camera with tall buildings and a reflective metallic sphere art piece in the background.
NMSU's Model United Nations team, joined by their Japanese partners, poses with their 2013 Distinguished Delegation award in the courtyard of the United Nations Building in New York City. They also garnered four individual position paper awards and four outstanding delegate awards. (Photo courtesy of the NMSU Model U.N. team)

For many it's about basketball, but for New Mexico State University's Model United Nations team, it's all about the annual National Model United Nations Conference.

This year's team, in its 15th year of participation, followed in the tradition of past teams by winning big at the conference, held March 17-21 in New York City.

They broke new ground this time by partnering with a group of Japanese students affiliated with Tokyo University.

The joint delegation, representing the country of Argentina in the simulated General Assembly session, was awarded Distinguished Delegation, a designation that puts them in the top 16 percent of the 250 participating delegations. In addition, they garnered four individual position paper awards and four outstanding delegate awards.

The delegation was organized into nine two-person teams, most of which had both an NMSU student and a Japanese student. The Japanese group had arrived in Las Cruces a week before the conference for in-person preparation activities with their NMSU counterparts and to attend the NMSU team's gala fundraising event.

"Working with Ena Igeta, my Japanese teammate, was an experience that I will always remember," said NMSU's Isaac Morales. "It really helped me understand the dynamics of working with people from around the world and it greatly increased my admiration of the amount of work that the United Nations does in promoting global unity. It also allowed me to grow as a person in my understanding of different cultures and in how we can work together to complement each other for the purpose of achieving a common goal."

The duo of Meagan Baker and Emma Hamilton was unique in winning both position paper and outstanding delegate awards with their focus on the United Nations Population Fund.

Additional position paper awards went to:
?Mihyun Hong and Akari Hyodo, General Assembly First Committee
?Jacob Deaven and Keisuke Yamada, General Assembly Second Committee
?Thea Trejo and Haley Grant, General Assembly Fourth Committee

Additional outstanding delegate awards were earned by:
?Zack Quintero and Risa Suenaga, Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice
?Julia Downs and Naoki Sato, Commission on the Status of Women
?Collin King and Uziel Marte, Security Council B as China

This is a repeat performance for Quintero, who was also an outstanding delegate at last year's national conference. King, the NMSU organization's vice president, garnered an outstanding delegate award earlier this year at a major conference in Montreal.

NMSU's head delegate Lydia Hammond was honored by being selected to chair the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development session, which involved overseeing the formal debate, accepting motions and recognizing speakers.

Hammond reported that the group had a chance to meet a representative of the Argentine Permanent Mission to the U.N. Closing ceremonies for the conference actually took place at the U.N. Headquarters building.

"Leading this team has been one of the most enriching experiences of my life," Hammond said. "I couldn't have asked for a better group of students to work with."

Hammond said the team's prospects are good for next year, particularly since a team's high performance one year gives it a better chance to represent the country of its choice the following year.

"Being an award-winning team means that we have continued our reputation as a top school at the conference and it does help us with our country selection," she said. "Hopefully it will allow us to get our top choice next year, although at this point we have no idea what we want."

The election of next year's officers is slated for late April.

"The future prospects of the team are excellent," said Yosef Lapid, a Regents Professor in the Department of Government and the team's faculty adviser. "With its consistent award-winning performance, the team has established a strong national and international reputation. In future years, the team will continue to expand its horizons and add new initiatives and competitions to its impressive repertoire."