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Model UN Team Praised for Authentic Representation of Iran

By Lori Wright, Media Relations
May 18, 2011

UNH Model UN Team: Front row, left to right: Westleigh Morin of Manchester; Amanda Condon of Sandwich, Mass.; Sasa Tang of Lee; Sarah Cattin of Manchester; Jennifer Alex of Schenectady, NY; Anukritika Rayamajhi of Manchester; Andrew Smith of Exeter; and Danielle Duchesne of Nashua. Back row, left to right: Tobiloba Afolayan of Durham; Casper Van Coesant of North Conway;  David Carrigan of North Adams, Mass.; Michael Dobrinski of Concord; Elizabeth Marcotte of Manchester; Timothy O'Connor of Concord; Mariann White of Wolfeboro; and Professor Alynna Lyon.

Even at the National Model United Nations, some countries don’t want to negotiate with Iran. For a group UNH students, representing the Islamic republic was an eye-opening experience; so authentic was their portrayal of the country that they took home an award for “Most Authentic Country” recently after participating in the program in New York City.

“Nations like Venezuela and Syria were quite willing to work with us, but we also had some intense debates with the United States and Israel. It was very exciting, and we really got into character,” said senior Sarah Cattin, president of UNH’s Model UN team.

“In past years we have represented countries like Andorra and Somalia, which don't usually play such a large role in negotiations. To represent the Islamic Republic of Iran this year was a real change in dynamics. Although it was difficult to get most other countries to agree to anything we wanted, they all wanted to hear what we had to say,” she said.

According to Alynna Lyon, associate professor of political science and the faculty coordinator for the UNH Model UN program, this was the first year that UNH was selected to represent one of the countries it requested.

“This is a testament to the reputation that UNH has built over the last eight years that they gave us such a high-profile country,” Lyon said.

More than 5,000 delegates, half from outside the United States, come to New York City each spring to discuss current global issues on 20 selected committees. Outside conference sessions, delegations enjoy the proximity to Permanent Missions of other countries to the United Nations and to the United Nations itself.

For the UNH students, one of the most rewarding aspects of the conference was a briefing at the U.S. Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York City with the head of the U.S. Sanctions Unit to discuss the challenges of Iran and the Middle East. 

“He had just written the UN Security Council Resolution that authorized the air strikes in Libya. He spoke with us about his work at the UN and gave us some insight into the U.S. Mission's experience working with Iran,” Cattin said.  

The Model United Nations team was awarded an “Honorable Delegation Award.” Seniors Mariann White and Timothy O’Connor won the “Outstanding Delegate” award for the “most authentic” representation of their country.

“As a political science and international affairs major, to be able to use the knowledge that I've gained in courses and apply it to the real-world situations that we were given during conference at a United Nations simulation has been an amazingly rewarding experience,” Cattin said.  

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