By Eva Tam
While some people partied during reading week, six Ryerson students placed second overall for best delegation at the North American Model United Nations (NAMUN) conference.
“As far as delegation as a whole, this is the best we’ve ever done,” president of Ryerson Model United Nations (RYEMUN), Jason Telegdi said.
“We went through a very long training process. We went through the entire first semester training delegates. It’s very exciting to watch (our delegates) win individual awards and then win the entire delegation award,” Telegdi said. RYEMUN won three individual awards.
First-year politics student Jessica Thorp was awarded second place in the UN Climate Change Convention. Amelia Facchin, also in her first year of politics, placed third in the UN Development Program. First-year computer science student Phillip Mendonca-Vieira was ranked third in the Disarmament and Security committee.
“I’m happy. I really felt I gave it my all. It wasn’t disappointing or anything to come in second. The guy who came in first really deserved it,” Thorp said.
Rounding out the delegation were first-year arts and contemporary studies student Sarah El-Shaarawi and first-year occupational and public health student Grant Lafontaine. “Ontario’s Best Lecturer,” Ryerson’ prof Arne Kislenko, was impressed with the Ryerson delegation’s performance. Before giving a speech at the conference, he had a personal chat with the squad.
“He said he was very proud of us. He wasn’t quite aware of us at the time before we got our honourable mention at the delegation. He was surprised to find that we performed so well and congratulated us,” Mendonca-Vieira said.
Kislenko’s students at the University of Toronto, who hosted the event, invited him to speak at there. He learned Ryerson had a delegation from them, he said. “Given that I teach (international relations), I was really, really happy and pleasantly surprised to see them there,” he said. “It’s just delightful, a really wonderful thing to know that Ryerson students are so dedicated and so talented, all without any help from the university.”
To top it off, RYEMUN achieved success without guidance or financial assistance from the university, Kislenko said in an e-mail to the Eyeopener. Approximately 30 delegations from across North America participated in the conference held from Feb. 23 to Feb. 26.
York University, all three University of Toronto campuses and schools from across the border, including the University of Pittsburgh, University of Notre Dame and Ohio Dominican University, were represented. Depending on how many delegates it sends, a school can represent either one or 20 countries.
Since Ryerson had six delegates, they all represented Australia. However, it was the United Kingdom, represented by Northern Michigan University, that captured first place overall for best delegation. “In all of the conferences, Ryerson has pretty much been the smaller school.
We have less representation than other schools, yet, in every conference, we continue to (get) away with awards,” said Thorp. Although the Model United Nations was started in 1945, RYEMUN only came to life last year when Ryerson alumnus Jimmy Kong took over as Faculty Advisor.
Last year, for the team’s first conference, RYEMUN participated in the North American competition and won third-best delegation overall. Telegdi won first place in the UN Development committee and another delegate, Sam Dealwis, was awarded third place in World Health Organization. “I’m really proud that this program is only two years old and in two years, we’ve changed the perception of Ryerson in the minds of other schools and in the minds of our own delegates. We suffer from the perception of ourselves. We think of ourselves as just RyeHigh. But when we go to the Model United Nations conference, and you speak, people listen.
“All eyes are on you and you are what matters. RyeHigh is out the window. Ryerson is something to be proud of,” Telegdi said.
The team and its members are a credit to the university, Kislenko said. He added that he heard the final decision was extremely close. “The decision to not name them the winner was very close, apparently,” he said. “The subject of some debate. “They nearly won. It’s really quite an impressive show.”
RYEMUN head to Ottawa March 1 to compete in the Canadian International Model United Nations conference.