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Cameron Falk, left, finance director for the Model UN club, and Jailen Gary, chief of staff, listen to a fellow club member speak at a Model UN meeting on Tuesday, March 5, 2019, in Athens, Georgia. The Model UN Club at UGA competes with other colleges in the United States with the goal of showing that diplomacy, through debate, may produce viable solutions to any issue. (Photo/Gabriella Audi, www.gabbyaudi10.wixsite.com/mysite-1)

At the 2019 Model United Nations conference at Emory University, Jailen Gary was assigned to play the role of Elizabeth Tudor in his Henry VIII themed committee.

Although he played a character of the opposite gender and 10 years younger than him, won the honorable delegate 3rd place award at the conference for his role as Elizabeth Tudor.

“It was definitely one of the highlights, if not the highlight of my Model UN career because I worked so hard and it was such a surprising win,” Gary said.

Competing from Athens to Chicago 

Model UN is a competitive club that travels to conferences, where members act out crisis simulations in committees of 20 people. Team delegates are assigned to play the role of a real or fictional character in the committee. At the recent Emory conference, Model UN member Ben Giebelhausen was assigned to the role of Dwight Schrute at Dunder Mifflin, the fictional workplace from TV show The Office.

In order to win, the delegate influence the committee as much as possible by convincing the committees to side with the character’s best interest.

The University of Georgia’s Model UN team has three main events throughout the year: hosting a high school conference and traveling to two collegiate conferences.

Model UN hosted a high school conference at the Zell B. Miller Learning Center Feb. 8-10 and more than 600 high schoolers came out to compete. Hosting the high school conference is the team’s biggest source of revenue for which they use to travel to conferences.

The team’s most recent conference was Feb. 22-24 at Emory University, and the team won two awards. Meredith Van De Velde, the team’s head delegate, and Megan Gillahan, the team’s secretary general, both won honorable mention third place awards.

The team will be traveling to Chicago on April 18th-21st for a conference hosted by the University of Chicago.

Building skills and community

For Giebelhausen and other members, their experiences gained through Model UN has taught them invaluable skills.

“[Model UN] builds public speaking skills and teaches you to think on your feet and be able to raise your hand and get up and say something even when you have nothing to say,” Giebelhausen said.

While the UGA team is smaller than most collegiate teams with only 29 current delegates, the team tight-knit team feels connected beyond the practices and conferences.

Outside of their weekly team practice, the team hangs out and studies together. Because of their similar majors, many of them also share international affairs classes together; thus, the team has become integrated on more levels than one. Gary said Model UN was a “social pillar” in his college experience.

”You have to find something that really lights a fire under you and that makes you really passionate,” said Gary. “Find people around you to help uplift that, and that is exactly what Model UN is for me.”

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