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Model UN club heads east for U.S. conference

By Joe Ferguson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, November 19, 2004
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For four days next week, 35 UA students will put aside their lives as students to become citizens from around the world.

Members of the UA chapter of Model United Nations will fly to Chicago today to attend the 2004 national conference. The conference attracts Model United Nations clubs from colleges and universities across the nation.

Rhiannon Kelso, the president of Arizona Model United Nations, said the club will represent Ghana, Tunisia and the Sudan at the conference.

Kelso said the club is labor-intensive.

"It is a lot of fun, but it is a lot of work," Kelso said.

Kelso said members must study the countries and write several papers before the national conference.

The conference models itself on real-world issues, and members are expected to be knowledgeable on the concerns of the countries they represent.

"When we get to the conference, everything is fair game," Kelso said.

Kelso said AMUN will play a prominent role in the national conference because of the bloody conflict in western Darfur region of Sudan.

"Sudan has a huge humanitarian crisis right now," Kelso said.

Fund raising is another prominent aspect of the AMUN, according to Kelso.

AMUN pays for all the costs except airfare to the national conference, and Kelso said there are several ways the group raises money.

In addition to ASUA club funding, AMUN writes fund-raising letters to various members of the UA community as well as friends and family members of current AMUN members.

AMUN also has a group night at a No Anchovies, where the group receives a percentage of the restaurant's sales for two hours.

In addition to fund-raising activities, members of AMUN must attend training workshops to learn the rules and procedures of model United Nations. This requires attending 16 hours of workshops for new members, and eight hours of training for officers.

A class is also available, open only to members of AMUN, offered by the political science department to prepare members for the conference.

Justin Peterson, an undeclared freshman, said a class he took in high school, which had a section on model United Nations, was enough to make him to join AMUN.

Peterson said he had fun at Saturday trainings and said he is looking forward to the conference. He said he will be working on solutions to the AIDS crisis in Africa, particularly to solutions in Ghana.

Lyndall Herman, a political science senior, said she joined the group because she enjoyed seeing different perspectives on international issues.

Herman, one of two undersecretary-generals of fund raising, said she sometimes spends two hours a day on fund-raising issues for AMUN. Herman said she splits the time between working on research and raising funds for the club.

Last year, two teams from AMUN won awards during the national conference. Political science students Sara Shepard, senior, and Naomi Brandis, junior, were recognized for their work on Syrian social and humanitarian issues. Ryan Erwin, political science junior, and Kelso won an award for their work on Syrian Security Council issues.

According to the AMUN Web site, the club was founded in January 1963 by Dr. Clifton Wilson of the department of government (now the department of Political Science) at the UA.

Next semester, AMUN will be going to the Arizona MUN conference April 8 and 9.

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