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Mansur Mekan is a senior at Arizona State University majoring in political science. With the assistance of the SPGS Travel Support award offered by the School of Politics and Global Studies, Mekan was able to attend the Model United Nations of the Far West (MUNFW) conference in San Francisco.
The Model United Nations offers students a chance to roleplay as delegates in different UN committees. The theme for the 68th annual session of the MUNFW was “Power of the Powerless: Strengthening Vulnerable Populations.”
Once he returned from the conference in San Francisco, Mekan shared some of his experiences:
Question: What was it like to attend this conference?
Answer: I greatly enjoyed the MUNFW conference; it was stimulating to engage in discussions and debates with students from different universities on complex issues. All of the delegates had a comprehensive understanding of the policies of the countries that they were representing and attempted to find other delegates with similar interests. We spent a vast amount of time negotiating resolutions and trying to gain support for it. The conference took my knowledge learned in ASU’s political science classrooms and applied them in an authentic simulation.
Q: What were some of your takeaways from this experience?
A: The MUNFW conference greatly deepened my understanding on international issues and the different perceptions around them, by working with delegates representing a diverse number of states. I represented the Federal Republic of Nigeria and originally my committee had three issues on the agenda, however for the four days of the conference we were stuck on the first issue, the Question of Palestine, displaying the complexity of the issue and the difficult process of negotiations. I was exposed to the struggle of diplomacy and had to learn to reach compromises with the other delegates, at the same time of maintaining the Nigeria’s interests.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: Over my years as a political science major at ASU, I have learned that and I am particularly interested in foreign policy. My ambition is to purse foreign relations and diplomacy in the future and plan to apply to both the United Nations and the State Department.
Q: How do you think this trip will help you attain your career aspirations?
A: This [Model United Nations] conference gave me insight and hands-on experience into diplomacy and the process of working with other states, with sometimes conflicting interests, to form solutions and compromises. The conference also increased my awareness of global issues and their different viewpoints. I believe that this experience will make me a stronger candidate for the job market, which is becoming increasingly transnational in nature. The conference allowed me to do global-natured work and address issues with limited information and time.
Q: What advice would you give those who are interested in a similar experience?
A: I highly encourage other ASU students to join our Model United Nations club and sign up for the next annual MUNFW conference in San Francisco. My advice to you is to be keep updated on current events and to be extremely familiar with your assigned state’s policies because you are representing its interests, not your own. During your committee’s opening speeches, keep notes on the other delegates viewpoints, with attention to the details, it will come in handy when looking for allies and forming resolutions.