A contingent of Lone Star College-Tomball students will head to New York Mar. 26 through Apr. 1 to attend the National Model United Nations (NMUN) conference where they have annually outperformed four-year colleges and universities from around the world. This year, along with students from LSC-Kingwood and LSC-Montgomery, they will represent the Republic of Chad and serve as a member of the UN Security Council representing the African continent. “I feel like we’ve got it this year,” said political science major Kaylin Arnold, a veteran on the squad who began attending LSC-Tomball classes as a dual credit student and is now returning for her third NMUN conference.
Over the years, LSC-Tomball has represented countries from all over the world. Last year, representing Equatorial Guinea, the delegation was named Outstanding Delegation, having been bested by only one school, a university in Germany. “I came to LSC-Tomball because of the Model UN team,” said Alexis Kulik, a freshman and Chancellor’s Fellow in the LSC Honors College. “I have a debate background, but I didn’t realize until I got involved with NMUN how intricate the strategy is. Everything you do affects the game somehow.”
Each of the participants refers to their NMUN work and their relationships with students representing other countries as ‘the game.’ Kulik said, “The gameplay is different with smaller African countries. For example, Chad has opened relations with China which places challenges on its relationship with the United States. There are so many layers to consider and keep track of.”
The LSC-Tomball NMUN initiative is a joint project between the Speaking Excellence Center and the Center for International Studies (CIS). Co-advisor David Birch, government professor and director of the CIS, said, “NMUN, particularly for students who have no experience, requires a set of skills that are mostly untapped at the beginning of the process. These students have to possess a real desire to take a risk, go outside what's comfortable, and really take a leap of faith.”
Returning to school after raising her family, Lisa Coryell was certain she was not a good fit for NMUN. “I was intrigued by the format, but was not a student of global cultural affairs. It didn’t feel right.” Professor Birch assured her, though, that the advisors would train her. “I am so appreciative,” she said, “that LSC-Tomball did not place me in that category of those time had passed by. Professor Birch saw something in me that I didn’t see. Now, I’m not apprehensive. When we go to New York in March, I am confident I will be well-equipped.”
Participating students at the international conference are from schools around the world, some of them post-graduate students studying foreign policy who plan to pursue diplomacy as a career. The students prepare position papers prior to the conference on topics applicable to the country they represent. Women, Peace, and Security, the situation in the Central African Republic, and Causes of Terrorism are the topics that the Chad delegation must consider.
“NMUN provides an invaluable experience for the students who are directly involved and the campus and community to which they return,” advisor and speech professor Dr. Sean Tiffee said. “It helps them to become more well-rounded, better researchers, better critical thinkers, better problem solvers and more empathetic – in short, better citizens.”
Kulik said, “The most interesting part for me has been having to remove myself from the U.S. perspective. Something may be possible for America, but not for Chad. Something may be possible for Chad’s government, but not for its people. You really have to look at things from all angles.” Coryell is looking forward to the challenge, “There is no way to have everything ready, so those blanks and how we they will be filled really intrigue me.”
Professor Birch said, “I talk with former delegates from five or six years ago and they still universally point to Model UN as the single most rewarding and challenging thing they have yet done.” For students like Arnold, the experience literally shapes their life’s path. “I’ve been really inspired by the NMUN advisors,” she said. “I’m thinking that I may want to spend my life doing what professor Birch does.”
Next stop on the path to your future, Kaylin: New York City.
Lone Star College-Tomball is located at 30555 Tomball Parkway, at the intersection of SH 249 and Zion Road. For more information about the college, call 281.351.3300 or visit LoneStar.edu/Tomball.
Known for its leadership, innovation and steadfast commitment to student success, Lone Star College provides high-quality academic transfer and workforce education/career training programs to more than 83,000 credit students each semester, and a total enrollment of 95,000 students. LSC is training tomorrow’s workforce today and redefining the community college experience to promote student success and economic prosperity. Stephen C. Head, Ph.D., is the chancellor of LSC, the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area, which consists of six colleges, eight centers, two university centers, Lone Star Corporate College and LSC-Online. To learn more visit LoneStar.edu.