University of Chicago's Model United Nations team collected numerous awards and honors last weekend, placing second overall to Harvard, at this year's Security Council Simulation at Yale University.
"We're looking very sharp this year. Most of our delegates won an award," said Yasser Ghanchi, a second-year in the College and vice president of the team.
"I think we were more professional this year," Ghanchi said. "We went there to win."
Charles Chuman, Yasser Ghanchi, Mike Lafond, Maura Walz and Jamie Stevens won best delegate awards in their respective committees, and Nick Seanz, Maryah Qureshi, Will Segal and Khalid Fakhro received honorable mentions.
"All the committees at Yale are 15 nations and under...It's only the members of the Security Council [who participate]," fourth-year in the College Charles Chuman explained. "So U of C delegates, who are known for their verbal dominance, have an advantage. We're known to be a very hard-core delegation."
The conference, which included 25 hours of debate, a crisis simulation in each committee, and the opportunity to speak with the United Kingdom ambassador to the Security Council, also provided delegates with a bit of raillery and good old-fashioned fun.
"This conference was actually surprising in that I didn't come back completely exhausted. This one was kind of energizing," said third-year in the College, Maura Walz. "We came out of this conference feeling really good."
The socialization with other students is one of the best reasons to go to a conference, Chuman said.
"It's nice just to hang around at another university for the weekend," he said. "What I like about MUN is it's the only opportunity I've had to engage with other university students from across the country in an intellectual discussion in which we're not only competing but discussing."
Yale's conferenceis unusual in that it is located on a university campus, in contrast to conferences like Chicago Model UN's, which takes place at a downtown hotel. This allowed delegates to frequent New Haven's local hangouts.
"There's a great place in New Haven called Claire's Corner Copia which has some of the best desserts of any place I've been to in the entire country. So I spent a lot of time in Claire's eating dessert," Chuman said.
The conference, however, occupied most of the delegates' time. In comparison to other Model UN conferences, Yale's is distinctive for its small committee sizes and the focused attention of those directing the tournament.
"I thought Yale's conference was pretty well run," Walz said. "I very much appreciate when the staff is knowledgeable about the topics you're discussing...It's a really invaluable contribution."
Chicago delegates' outspokenness together with their depth of experience led to the team's high overall placement, team members said. Only experienced members of the team were permitted to attend.
"I think as a team we were really prepared this year," Walz said.
Chicago's MUN team, however, has done well without a dominant presence of experienced members.
"Two years ago we had an incredibly strong showing at Yale, but most people that went didn't go to other conferences," Chuman said.
Chicago's team tends to go to conferences less frequently than other teams.
"U of C goes to four. Most schools go to more," Chuman explained. "Winning in Model UN comes with experience. Every conference has a different dynamic."