Valparaiso University’s Model United Nations class attended the 25th Annual American Model United Nations Conference in Chicago for four days and three nights during Thanksgiving Break.

Students who attended discussed and debated issues ranging from nuclear non-proliferation to curbing violence against women.

Each student group represented a different country. Valpo students who attended represented Saudi Arabia and Cote D’Ivoire.

Junior Abbi Blake said that the basic idea was to have the students make resolutions that fit with their issues of their particular country.

“My group talked about ways to finance renewable energy without limiting their supply of oil, because oil is a really big problem right now for Saudi Arabia,” Blake explained.

Julian Power, a junior political science major, said that it was a really good experience for him and his classmates.

“You and your country get put into a situation and you have to get a specific policy or draft passed. My group’s topic was Criminal Accountability and it was really interesting to see where that led,” Power said.

Junior Charlotte Soderman, also a political science major, said that it was difficult at first to work together with everyone, but eventually everything was solved.

“At the end, everyone came together, and it was very rewarding to finally get the policies passed,” she said.

Soderman also added that students had to argue the side most beneficial for their country, not their own personal beliefs.

“We had to argue for positions that were not our own, or ideas that we weren’t interested in,” Soderman said.

The Model UN class tries to promote diplomacy and knowledge of international relations, and the Chicago trip really gave the students a chance to put their skills to work.

Najla Als, a political science major, said that she had a personal connection to the UN Conference.

“I am from Saudi Arabia, and I really enjoyed it because it was my first time going. Also, I know that I am not going to have a chance like this again,” she said.

Als was a representative, which meant that she went back and forth between all the different groups and ideas.

“It was nice seeing a bunch of universities and students,” Als said.

There were 1,200 students from 20 different universities represented at the conference, including a class from Taiwan.

“I was happy because I met a guy also from Saudi Arabia so we got to talk,” Als added. “It reminded me that in Saudi Arabia, girls aren’t really given the opportunity to study like I am. I’m actually one of the only Saudi Arabian girls here studying political science.”

Professor Gregg Johnson said that he was very proud of and impressed with the students representing Valpo at the conference.

“As a faculty, it was really nice for me to see how well these students compared with other schools in the Midwest,” he said.

He also said that his class really understood how to put their own personal feelings aside and focus on the country they were representing.

“For example, one of the other schools was representing Russia, and they supported LGBT rights. However, the real Russia might not agree, and that was what we were trying to get across,” he said.

Johnson concluded, “It was really good for us to compare Valpo to the rest of the schools. As I sat and observed my class at work, I thought you know, hey, we have pretty darn good students!”

Contact Sarah Geekie at

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