Pace University New York City student Elizaveta “Lisa” Smirnova ’18 at the 2016 National Model UN conference in Washington DC.

Attending the 2016 National Model United Nations conference in Washington DC was one of the best experiences in my life. Model UN class taught me valuable skills in advocacy, diplomacy, leadership, negotiation and public speaking.

Doing in-depth research, giving formal speeches, drafting a complex resolution, and communicating with more than a hundred delegates is an intense experience. But it prepares students for work in real life. Even if students are not interested in working at the UN, taking this class develops skills needed in many careers.

It can be scary at the beginning of the class and one faces many challenges at the conference. However, students can always rely on the incredible support of the class professor, Dr. Bolton and the head delegates.

At the conference, I represented Zimbabwe in a simulation of decisionmaking in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). With my delegation partner Joe Collela, I won an award for an “Outstanding Position Paper.” Working on this research and representing Zimbabwe helped me to gain valuable perspective on African politics.

Acknowledging and trying to understand views different from my own, putting aside my own belief system, was my biggest take away from the conference. I was also glad to learn more about nuclear disarmament, which has inspired my activism and desire to work harder towards the issues I truly care about.

Model UN empowers youth, providing advocacy skills to each student, who can make a difference at the conference and in the real world.

-Elizaveta “Lisa” Smirnova ’18, Political Science and Peace and Justice Studies double major