Photo: Josh Groves with "Best Delegate" trophy and HSU students Andrew Bennett (L), Madison Mc Donald, Holly Enloe
The room resounded with clapping as Hardin-Simmons University sophomore Josh Groves was honored with a "Best Delegate" award in front of 250 student delegates from 40 countries across the world last week.
Groves was one of four HSU Leadership Studies students participating this month in the Model United Nations conference in Vienna, Austria, in what turned out to be an experience of a lifetime.
Hardin-Simmons University professor of management and leadership and the director of the Leadership Studies Program, Dr. Coleman Patterson, says the trip to the Model United Nations conference is one of the many things our leadership program does to prepare for leadership on a global scale.
Students attending have the opportunity to authentically simulate negotiations of specific committees and organizations within the United Nations. Prior to leaving for Vienna, participants chose a country and researched their chosen country’s position regarding specific topics. At the conference, they step into the shoes of diplomats and represent the country in the committee. Through debate and negotiation the students bring forward new solutions and solve world conflicts with their own resolutions.
That is where Groves, a sophomore fitness, recreation, and sports management major from Lindale, Texas, excelled. He was one of 44 students chosen to serve on the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime committee. “The committee is the biggest one at the Vienna International Model United Nations,” explains Patterson, “and our very own Josh Groves, representing Canada, was honored as ‘Best Delegate’ and he was recognized and received his award in front of the entire assembly.”
Patterson says students improve their negotiation and public speaking skills at these events. “They also become better team-workers, and are able to practice the leadership skills they have already acquired. They gain insight into the work of a UN diplomat and learn to make practical use of political knowledge.”
The Vienna conference is especially hallowed because the city was, for many centuries, the center of the Habsburg Empire. The once imperial capital of the world is known for its Vienna Congress and as a consummate meeting place for international conferences.
Vienna is also one of the United Nations capitals with about 4,000 people from all over the world working for Vienna-based international organizations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. In addition, Vienna serves as headquarters for OPEC, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
“The conference, which took place at the UN complex in Vienna, gave our students experience in diplomacy at one of the most authentic United Nations simulation conferences offered in the world,” says Patterson, “and they gained that experience with students from countries from all across the world.”
Topics discussed by the students included the Relevance of Human Rights in the 21st Century; Prevalence of the Use of Alcohol; Illicit Nuclear Trafficking; The Sovereign Debt Crisis: Europe and the International Monetary Fund; and discussion on a timely and urgent topic – the very real and serious developments in Syria.
HSU was hosted by the mayor of the city of Vienna at the impressive Vienna City Hall for the opening of the Model United Nations gala reception, and a representative of the Viennese government welcomed the students as they experienced a night of Viennese delicacies.
An intercultural night introduced delegates to the cultures of all of the countries represented at the conference as they witnessed colorful performances of dance, song, and poetry from all parts of the world. The event also provided students the opportunity to present their own country to others from their own point of view.
Other HSU students involved in the international conference included Holly Enloe, an accounting and finance major from Desoto, Texas; Madison McDonald, a freshman management major from Bay City, Texas; and Andrew Bennett, a management major from San Antonio, Texas.