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February 6, 2014

ODU Group Recognized as Outstanding Delegation at Ohio State Model UN Conference

topstory4-lgLeft to right: Felicia Fisher, Brian Rinaldo, Christina Sheehan, Michael Chapman, Petra Szonyegi and Joe Espinoza. Photo By Valerie Sprouse

Old Dominion's Model UN delegation took home three awards from the Model United Nations Conference at Ohio State University (MUNCOS), Jan. 25-26. This was ODU's first appearance at the OSU event.

"The delegation was small, with just six participants, but punched well above its weight, winning three awards," said ODU Model UN Director Aaron Karp. In addition to receiving the Outstanding Delegation award, ODU's Brian Rinaldo was named Best Delegate, Security Council, and Joe Espinoza was recognized as Outstanding Delegate, Security Council.

Bad weather kept some schools away, but did not affect the realism or intensity of the atmosphere in Columbus. "This was a new conference for ODU and easily our best achievement of the year," said Karp. "We expected to do well, but this was surprising. Everyone in the program is delighted."

Two ODU students stood out in the historical Security Council of 1994, debating global responses to the civil war and genocide in Rwanda. Rinaldo, an M.A. candidate in English literature, played the government of Rwanda and freshman international studies major Joe Espinoza portrayed China. "With their aggressive and accurate presentation, there was little the international community, as represented at the Ohio State event, could do, even with the benefit of hindsight," Karp said.

Four students represented ODU in the General Assembly, portraying the delegations of Hungary, Italy, Switzerland and the United States as they debated the prospects for cooperation in future space exploration and colonization. "Avoiding militarization and reducing national claims in space, the group concluded, requires robust international cooperation," Karp noted.

Careful preparation, under the leadership of head delegate Rinaldo, made a big difference for ODU. Felicia Fisher, a freshman political science major, said: "Our delegation was ultra-competitive."

Petra Szonyegi, an ODU sophomore majoring in international studies, said much of the delegation's experience was due to the professionalism of the Ohio State organizers: "We had amazing committee chairs and conference directors, who dealt very well with the bad weather situation."

ODU's Michael Chapman, a senior majoring in computer engineering, admitted that the scale of the OSU campus was among the most impressive sights during the trip: "You have to see it to believe it."

The university's travel and participation at Ohio State was made possible by financial support from Charles Wilson, dean of the College of Arts and Letters, and Carol Simpson, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

With more than 60 members, the ODU Model UN Society is engaged in a full spectrum of international simulations and conference-organizing activities. The OSU conference was the ODU team's fifth major event of 2013-14. Last semester, ODU sent 25 students to the United Nations and country missions in New York, and competed at events sponsored by Georgetown University, the University of Pennsylvania and the Hampton Roads World Affairs Council.

Later this month, Feb. 20-23, the ODU society hosts its annual UN simulation conference for 1,200 participants, a three-day event at the Norfolk Sheraton Waterside Hotel for regional high schools. Later this spring ODU Model UN will represent the university at conferences at the University of Virginia, William and Mary and the University of Chicago.