Class offers trip to Egypt

Katie Drew

A political science course offered this spring, focused on the Model United Nations, will give participants the opportunity to earn three credits and travel to Egypt to participate in the Cairo Model United Nations. While this course has been offered for many years, students have been traveling to Cairo for only the past six years. Before Egypt, Model U.N. destinations included Harvard and Georgetown. Cairo is the first international location chosen for this course. The class costs little over $2,000 on top of tuition, for which the students are responsible. Students who register are required to pay a down payment of $200 and to pay the balance by Dec. 22. Students learn about the United Nations and its committees prior to the trip to Cairo. Each person is given a country to represent, with Villanova students representing a total of two or three countries in the Model U.N. The students learn about the country they will represent in preparation for their departure to Cairo. Each student represents his or her country on an assigned committee. While several students from Villanova may be assigned the same country, they will each be assigned to different committees. In March, the students will travel to Cairo. Once there, they will spend eight-hour days working with students from other universities to discuss issues that face the United Nations. The students are charged with putting the interests of the country they represent before their own personal ideas, making for some interesting debates. The goal is for each committee to resolve the issues facing them by the end of the experience. Students are responsible for backing resolutions that their country would support, as well as gaining the support of the other nations.Villanova students are never given America as a country to represent. “To go as Americans representing other countries besides America is very rewarding,” said Dr. Lowell Gustafson, the faculty adviser for this program since 1984. Along with the experience of participating in the Model U.N., the students also learn about other cultures through their studies and interactions with other students in Egypt. The participants in this event tend to be predominantly from American and Middle Eastern backgrounds. While Villanova students stay together in hotel accommodations, most meals are eaten with other members of a student’s committee. Students often mingle with the international students after diplomatic talks have ceased for the day. The different cultures also bond with late-night dancing or dinner cruises on the Nile River.The group visits historical sites, such as the pyramids, Mount Nebo and the ancient city of Petra. When students return to campus, they spend time in class reflecting on their experiences through discussions and papers. In the past, feedback on this class has been overwhelmingly positive.”The value of an international Model U.N. is really in developing an understanding of other cultures and developing relationships with the people of other countries who view the world differently than we do,” Gustafson said.