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Students learned negotiation skills at model UN trip to Cairo

Concordia sent a delegation to the International Model United Nations in Cairo this year -- or rather, the students sent themselves.

As their faculty advisor, Political Science Professor Peter Stoett, put it, "The students soon found themselves engaged in a crash course in economics, marketing, management and organizational behaviour. Writing proposals, meeting with University personnel, soliciting government support and organizing two major fundraising functions were all on the agenda."

At the model UN conference, held in early March, the 10 Concordia students represented Canada and Germany. Their preparation included knowing a lot about those countries' foreign policies. In discussion and debate, they learned something of the art of compromise, dealing with other "states" with their own policy objectives.

The conference brought together students from around the globe, including the United States, Barbados, Germany, the United Kingdom, Poland and the Middle East. The event was hosted for the 11th consecutive year by the American University in Cairo, the oldest university in the Middle East.

"It was, by all accounts, an intense experience," Stoett said. "Similar to the real United Nations, many students worked until the early hours of the morning polishing their resolutions and discussing events with other delegates. The students enjoyed it because it wasn't as competitive as the regular North American model UN."

The Concordia delegation was impressive, Stoett added. "They were punctual, well-organized and persuasive in all their committees." They were awarded an honorary mention as a team, and some individuals got such lighthearted awards as "most likely to become a diplomat" (Aziz Mulay-Shah) and "most gentlemanly" (Samy Iskanfer).

Fortunately, it wasn't all work. The students explored Cairo, rode camels and saw the pyramids. They also visited the political science department at the University of Cairo, and were given a dinner cruise on the Nile.

"It was a fantastic learning experience, and a chance to promote Concordia abroad," Stoett concluded. "Despite considerable funding obstacles and skepticism in the local community, the delegates were able to realize the dream of attending a truly international event."

There were 25 active members in the Concordia UN Club this year. Students who would like to join next year should inquire through the Political Science Department.

- BB

Copyright 1999 Concordia's Thursday Report.