While the campus was quiet on the Cesár Chávez holiday, a classroom on the third floor of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences building buzzed with activity as the Cal State San Bernardino Model United Nations team made final preparations for the National United Nations Conference.

The practice session would be the last on campus before the student delegates would board a red-eye flight to New York City late April 7. The conference marks the culmination of work the 17 students have applied themselves to since the start of the spring semester, researching the history, politics and policies of Austria, and learning to take on the roles of diplomats from that country and how to interact with diplomats from other countries.

 “I think that this program is probably the most intense program you’ll ever be in,” said one student delegate, Ethan Silva, a senior political science major. “You learn about all kinds of different countries – it’s not just Austria or a specific country. It’s the whole world, because you have to know all the aspects of what they focus on, what they want to implement. You learn so many new things.”

Accompanying Silva are fellow team members are Blessing Nwogu, Ramtin Ranjpour, Rachel Rodgers, Krystopher De Lira, Andrea Colombel, Alyssa Lujan, Luis Fernando Lizama, Cynthia Roman, Alexander Edsell, Karen Terrero, Joselyne Salcedo, Guadalupe Miranda, Angeli Richard, Pedro Hernandez, Michelle Markham, and Gary Williams. Sina Bastami, director of the CSUSB Model UN program, will be in New York with them. Their progress, and that of the entire conference, can be followed at the National Model UN Facebook page. CSUSB is participating in Conference B.

In the conference print program, CSUSB is recognized as one of 21 universities that have participated for at least 30 consecutive years. “The long-term support of these schools reflects the hard work and dedication of faculty advisors, students and administrators,” conference organizers wrote. “It shows the commitment to experiential learning opportunities like (National Model UN) as well as the ideals embodied by the United Nations.”

The CSUSB’s Model UN students have been participating in the conferences since 1977, when the program was established as an academic program by Ralph Salmi, professor emeritus of the CSUSB Department of Political Science. The program continued its success under the leadership of Kevin Grisham (now the interim associate vice president for Faculty Affairs & Development at CSUSB) until 2020, when Bastami was named the program director. 

Past participants in the Model United Nations program have said the conference simulations gave them real-life experiences in diplomacy and relationship building. Some program graduates have embarked on careers in diplomacy, while others have gone on to prestigious graduate programs, such as the Harvard School of Law. Many of the alumni come back every year to speak to the next generation of CSUSB Model UN students and help support them through mentorship, providing students with networks around the globe and fiscal support.   

Participation in the CSUSB Model UN program is through a class (GEOG 5756) offered by the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies that is open to all students and majors interested in global issues and studies. Geography 5756 fulfills General Education requirements for all enrolled undergraduates and graduates at CSUSB. 

For more information about the CSUSB Model UN program or to contribute to it, visit the CSUSB Model United Nations website.