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Ƶ Team Wins Awards Representing Indonesia at Model United Nations Conference in New York

Ƶ’s award-winning Model UN team represented the Republic of Indonesia at the March 2024 National Model United Nations Conference in New York City. This year’s team included students Ryan Dzurko, a political science pre-law major; Kimberlyn Furajter, a global studies and political science double major; Trifol Headman, a political science pre-law major; Sarah Minghini, a political science and communication double major; Pietro Porco, a political science and mathematics double major; Oliver Przepiora, a political science pre-law major; Jarred Spellman, a political science pre-law major; and Nikolas Wienzen, a political science pre-law major. Dr. Roni Kay M. O’Dell, associate professor of political science and global studies, and Dr. Susan Eichenberger, associate professor of sociology, served as faculty advisors to the team. 

Considered the world’s largest archipelagic state, Indonesia comprises more than 17,000 islands in Southeastern Asia between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the third largest democracy in the world, and one of the most culturally diverse. It also ranks second in the world in biodiversity (after Brazil). The Ƶ Model UN team spent 7 months researching Indonesia in preparation for representing it on several committees: General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security; General Assembly Second Committee on Economic and Finance Issues; General Assembly Third Committee on Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Issues; International Atomic Energy Agency; Environmental Assembly; Economic and Social Council; and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

Special Briefings

Ƶ’s Model UN team also enjoyed the unique opportunity of being briefed by the Sisters of Charity Federation, other religious non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the Indonesian Mission to the UN.

“The Indonesian briefing was such an incredible experience,” said Nikolas Wienzen. “Ambassador Hari was extremely kind and knowledgeable and was genuinely happy to receive and answer all of our questions. He was very clear with all of his answers and that made it very easy to follow along and understand. He is immensely busy, I am sure, but yet he stayed engaged with all our questions for a long period of time which was especially kind of him.” 

"The biggest thing I will remember from this trip is how, no matter where you are from, you can connect with others to conquer and solve these unfortunate problems that so many people have to face." 

“Meeting with Catholic NGOs was an incredibly different experience to what I thought it would be,” said Ryan Dzurko. “The excitement from the representatives we got to talk to made the room feel very welcoming and friendly. They showcased how they are working with other NGOs on how to end homelessness. Their kindness and willingness to let us into their work lives was eye opening and left me hopeful for the future of the world.” 

Leadership Roles and Awards 

Students have the opportunity to take leadership roles at the conference, such as the Head Delegate role taken this year by Ryan Dzurko. Head Delegates support their team members in all of the committees during the conference, providing communication and moral support during difficult negotiations. Awards are presented during the closing ceremonies at the UN headquarters (in the great hall where the UN General Assembly meets annually). This year, Ƶ’s team received an Honorable Mention Delegation Award for their work representing Indonesia, and one team member, Pietro Porco, received a peer award for his excellent committee and teamwork in the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

Student (and Faculty) Impact

This year’s team contained students with previous Model UN experience as well as students attending for the first time. Kimberly Furajter, a returning team member, says serving on the team has been “a highlight of my college years.”  

“During my final year in committee,” Kimberly continued, “I could truly see just how much I have been able to grow as a negotiator, team member and educated member of the community. This year I had the honor and pleasure of leading the working papers of the Economic and Social Council, as well as being the key negotiator for mergers. This being compared to me being terrified to speak during my first year.”

For Nikolas Wienzen, serving on the Model UN team was a brand-new experience. 

“I enjoyed every minute of the trip,” he said. “From the relaxing moments of learning about different cultures, to the stressful time management of submitting my working paper by the deadline. I even enjoyed getting to face and conquer a fear of mine, which was public speaking. I got to meet so many amazing people, and the biggest thing I will remember from this trip is how, no matter where you are from, you can connect with others to conquer and solve these unfortunate problems that so many people have to face. I am so thankful for the opportunity to experience and be a part of this incredible club and event.”

“Having the privilege of accompanying the Ƶ University Model United Nations team to the National Model United Nations conference was an unforgettable and rewarding experience,” Dr. Eichenberger said. “Watching the students prepare all year for the week in New York City, and then see them enact all that they have learned about the country that they represent - as well as diplomacy and negotiation - is impressive and awe inspiring. I am honored to have witnessed their dedication, enthusiasm, and hard work.”

“I’m always impressed with how much students experience and take away from the conference and from the teamwork and camaraderie,” said Dr. O’Dell, who acts as main content advisor for the team and was the founding faculty member of Ƶ’s Model UN in 2016. “I’m also inspired by the work they conduct in committee–on finding ways to work well with others and address issues of international concern–because it gives me hope that the world can work collaboratively to respond to shared threats. The conference makes a huge impression on the students and gives them an experience that will make them ready for their future academic and career work.” 

Photo above, from left to right: Sherley Mega Sandion, Roni Kay M. O'Dell, Oliver Przepiora, Ryan Dzurko, Jarred Spellman, Nikolas Weinzen, Ambassador Hari Prabowo, Trifol Headman, Sarah Minghini, Kimberlyn Furajter, Pietro Porco, Susan Eichenberger.