A group of nine Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) students are traveling to Melbourne, Australia this Spring Break to participate in the 22nd Annual Harvard World Model United Nations (WorldMUN) Conference. They will represent different countries and debate students from all over the world on a wide range of topics.
TAMIU has already logged over 76,788 miles by sending student delegations to WorldMUN conferences for the past seven years. TAMIU delegations have attended WorldMUN conferences in Taiwan, Singapore, and Vancouver.
TAMIU provost and vice president for Academic Affairs Dr. Arenaz praised the TAMIU MUN group.
“In 2006, the first delegation sent to WorldMUN consisted of a very small group of students interested in international affairs. The delegation has grown into a vibrant group of students who work diligently in the field. The fact that TAMIU sends delegations to these conferences to compete and work with others from universities around the world speaks volumes for our students,” Dr. Arenaz said.
This is the eighth consecutive year that TAMIU participates in WorldMUN. Model United Nations Society of South Texas’ (MUNSST) president Alex Barrera said TAMIU has an expanding presence at the conferences.
“I have seen the image of TAMIU increase over the past three years,” Barrera noted, “A lot of delegations from around the world are becoming familiar with who we are. We have received invites to attend other Model United Nations (MUN) conferences from several other delegations we have become associated with.”
TAMIU’s delegation this year includes Barrera, a senior biology major; Esther Cavazos, junior, double major in international economics and marketing; Agar Hernandez, senior, psychology; Amanda Rodriguez, sophomore, double major in political science and English; Philip Balli, senior, communication; Sandra Gutierrez-Wirsching, Ph.D student, International Business Administration; Jennifer Flores, senior, Nursing; Jonathan Gutierrez, senior, political science; and Selene Cuevas, junior, business administration with a concentration in international economics.
Barrera is head delegate of this year’s TAMIU Australia delegation. He worked diligently with other MUNSST officers to put together the traveling team by opening applications for MUNSST and holding interviews. During the conference, he must insure fellow delegates follow WorldMUN guidelines while simultaneously offering his voice to a specialized committee that only accepts 20 delegates.
Barrera is the only individual representing the United States in the High Level Youth Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The committee is charged with analyzing what has been done towards achieving the MDGs and determining what will come after 2015. Its resolutions will be presented to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for possible implementation.
Barrera said MUNSSST members worked tirelessly to secure donations and conducted fundraising events to make the Australia trip possible.
“We are very grateful to TAMIU president Dr. Keck and vice presidents Dr. Arenaz and Candy Hein of Institutional Advancement for their donations. In addition to donations, MUNSST has held several fundraisers on campus, accumulating a substantial amount of funding to pay for flight tickets, conference fees, and food and accommodation costs,” he explained.
Since the actual WorldMUN conference does not take place until the week after Spring Break, MUNSST members are taking advantage of their traveling situation. They will spend their Spring Break in Sydney and have created their own itinerary of events including attending a concert in the Sydney Opera House, a full day of outdoor activities in the Blue Mountains National Park, and going to the Sydney Zoo, among others. They will also meet with TAMIU alums while in Australia.
Team member treasurer Esther Cavazos said she is impressed with the diversity of students making the trip and believes travel has broadened her experiences.
“Being in MUNSST has broadened my imagination of what is possible when I study abroad,” Cavazos said.
Sandra Gutierrez-Wirsching is the only Ph.D student in the delegation and has several reasons she’s excited to participate in WorldMUN.
“I am excited about the networking opportunities, being able to collaborate with all parties in my committee to reach a great resolution, and learning from people from so many different backgrounds and cultures,” Gutierrez-Wirsching explained.
“We interact with the best students from all over the world, expose ourselves to different systems and analytical skills, and we are able to bring these experiences home with us. But what I am looking forward to most is spending time with some of the most amazing people that I have met from TAMIU and strengthening our camaraderie,” she concluded.