Dorm room diplomats Livingstone students take part in mock UN
It’s not uncommon for college students to be awakened from their sleep by loud music coming from a nearby dorm room – or by classmates trying to lure them to a late-night party.
But last month, six Livingstone College students were awakened around 1:30 a.m. for an important mission: peacefully resolve the latest world crisis. It was all part of a model United Nations session that was hosted by North Carolina Central University and held March 20-23 in Durham as part of the 2014 North Carolina Consortium for International and Inter-cultural Education.
This year’s session, the 25th annual one, marked the first time Livingstone College students participated. Suffice it to say it won’t be the last.
“The purpose was to introduce them to the inner workings of the UN and to present issues the UN faces,” said Earl Brown, Jr., director of Livingstone’s International Program and a former Peace Corps volunteer who has lived in Africa and traveled extensively throughout that continent, Europe and Latin America. “There were students from NCCU, North Carolina A&T State University, Fayetteville State University, Bennett College and Winston-Salem State University, and each school represented various countries.”
The Livingstone contingent, Victor Nayituriki, Samantha Rush, Anthony Kyles, Jr., Mulbah B. Gray, Jr., Donishka Morley and Michael Smith, represented Liberia and Rwanda, apropos given Nayituriki is from Rwanda and Gray is from Liberia.
In fact, all eyes were on Livingstone and on Nayituriki in particular, when during one session he spoke in his native French as Dr. Paul N. Masamba Sita translated it to English for those assembled.
Brown said you could have heard the proverbial pin drop as Nayituriki spoke.
“I wanted to feel more comfortable, so I asked if I could speak in French,” Nayituriki said. “I knew I would be able to express myself if I could speak in my native tongue.”
Nayituriki, a freshman computer information systems major, said he enjoyed the model UN session, which featured committees on disarmament and international security, economics and finance, social, humanitarian and culture and legal issues. He said he would gladly participate again. His colleagues share his enthusiasm.
“I saw it as a challenge and an opportunity of having a new experience,” said Gray, a senior business administration major. “I didn’t really know how the UN worked prior to being a part of the model session, but now I have a much better appreciation for the member countries and their representatives and everything they face and the big decisions they have to constantly make.”
Brown said he wanted the students to attend the UN session, “to give them some perspective of the work of global organizations like the UN.” Likewise, the four-day event was in keeping with the holistic college started by Livingstone College President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr. when he became the institution’s top administrative official in February 2006. The holistic college aims to teach students what they need to know both inside and outside the classroom to ensure they graduate fully equipped to command their rightful place in today’s global society.
Rush, a senior political science major from Bowie, Md., said preparing for the UN session was a tad nerve-racking.
“We had to cram a year’s worth of work into three weeks to get ready for the session,” Rush said. “Some of the other schools offer classes for this, or clubs that prepare the students for the annual session. We didn’t even know about it until Mr. Brown approached us and asked us if we’d like to go several weeks before the date.”
Even so, things went well for the Livingstone group, which was housed at The Millennium hotel in Durham with other participants.
“Once we got there it was kind of no turning back,” Rush continued. “Other students told us what to expect, and once we got past the initial parliamentary session we were good to go.”
Kyles, a junior sports management major from Jackson, Miss., said he is confident he presented well when it was his turn to speak.
“Based on the other students and their advanced preparation, I feel as though I injected good, sound input into the discussions,” he said.
Smith, a junior criminal justice major from Raeford, said he thoroughly enjoyed the experience, though he admits it took him quite a while to wake up during the emergency session at which the crisis with respect to Brazilian currency was discussed.
“Having to get out of my bed in the middle of the night and go to that session made me think about what adults go through,” Smith said. “In some ways, I feel that emergency meeting will help prepare me for the real world because there may be times on my job when I have to get to the office very early for a hastily called meeting or stay extremely late to ensure the company remains solvent.”
Morley, a senior criminal justice major from Abaco, Bahamas, said she enjoyed the conference and thinks it will be beneficial to her career plans.
“I’m considering attending law school after graduating from Livingstone, but if I don’t go to law school I would love to become part of The Royal Bahamas Police Force,” Morley said. “At the UN session I learned how to solve different problems in a timely manner, and I learned to work in unison with others. Lawyers often have to work on the fly, sometimes getting clients at the last minute without having much time to prepare for trial, and police officers have to be very diplomatic and able to work with people from all walks of life, so the UN experience will help me down the road no matter which of those two paths I choose.”
Brown said he’s proud of Nayituriki, Rush, Kyles, Gray, Morley and Smith, particularly since they were recognized with an “honorable mention” among the participating schools. He fully expects Livingstone to send another group of students next year.