This post brought to you by guest writer: Rebecca Wiseman
Brigham Young University’s Model European Union (MEU) team earned three awards at the 11th Annual MEU conference held at the University of Washington’s European Union Center of Excellence, Feb. 20-21, 2015. The conference provided a setting for approximately 60 undergraduate students participating from 15 universities in the U.S. and Canada to understand the workings of the European Union. BYU’s Rachel Hludzinski was recognized as an Outstanding Head of Government, and Jenna Jackson received an honorable mention award as Head of Government as well as an outstanding position paper award.
“I enjoyed the MEU competition because of the opportunity I had to discuss a broad array of European policy areas. Hludzinski stated. “I also value the long-term dedication the MEU class demands from students in order to prepare for the competition.”
MEU simulates a European Council Summit where students play the roles of EU member state delegations, the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the European Parliament under the direction of the rotating Council Presidency, a position in the EU held presently by Latvia. This year’s competition featured two concurrent summit negotiation sessions, one focusing on youth unemployment, discussed by heads of government, and the other addressing the common foreign and security policy within the EU, led by the Ministers of the Interior.
More than a simulation, MEU also prepares students with writing skills, public speaking and negotiation strategies. “I learned that in order to reach agreements with people and you sometimes need to give up things to gain ground collectively,” Collier said. Several students also mentioned the importance of confidence in knowledge of their country’s position on a given issue.
“Early on in my preparations, I would second-guess myself. In preparation for the MEU competition I began to focus on my strengths and that led me to become more confident in what I was talking about with others at the conference,” Bebel said.
For the second consecutive year, BYU represented one of the Council Presidencies, meaning two BYU students were chosen to chair the banking union session. This selection was an honor to BYU, as the school with the most winning delegates from the previous year is chosen to serve as a presidency team the following year. This year’s presidency included Raeni Sroufe and Savannah Eccles, both political science majors.
The five-student delegation from BYU was sponsored by the Center for the Study of Europe (CSE) and the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies. The team was directed by Wade Jacoby, professor of political science and faculty director of CSE, and co-advisors Cory Leonard and Rebecca Wiseman. Student representatives included Rachel Hludzinski, Jenna Jackson, Jon Collier, JJ Bebel and Corey Cherrington.
“I’ve rarely heard such high praise for our overall delegation,” Jacoby said. “Our students should feel great about their preparation and performance.”
Rebecca Wiseman, the 2015 coach, advisor and judge for the BYU Model European Union Team, explains why students feel the opportunity to compete in the even is so valuable.
Q: What was your role in the MEU trip?
RW: I acted as the student advisor on the trip to Seattle. I competed in the competition first as a student in 2013 representing Belgium. Then, I was asked to come back in 2014 and act as presidency (or moderator) along with Romy Franks in 2014, finally, after graduating from the IR program, I was invited back to act as coach/advisor for the team and act as a judge for all students in the most recent 2015 competition. Our students start to prepare for the competition in December and as advisor I help choose, train and coach the students to be prepared to compete in the February competition. Following the collegiate competition, our students put on a Standalone MEU conference for over 100 high school students and I am the director of this event.
Q: Why do you think going to Model European Union (MEU) is a valuable experience for BYU students?
RW: MEU provides students the opportunity to improve a wide array of skills such as negotiation, diplomacy, strategic thinking, public speaking and research. The MEU committees are smaller than MUN committees and require students to really think about what neighboring countries think about particular policies. Understanding the interconnectedness of the EU and how it relates to the country you are representing really pushes students to understand the perspective of country leaders on a deeper level and allows economic and politic concepts to come together in an applicable, real-world situation. MEU is one of the best simulations of diplomacy and policy making I’ve been a part of and really shows students the challenges and triumphs of working with 28 other member states in coming to an agreement.
Q: What aspects about the experience might help students with their future careers?
RW: Networking alone is a great aspect of MEU. At the competition you have the opportunity to connect with several top European scholars across the nation. You will also have the lasting friendships with students both from your school and other visiting schools and have the opportunity to build professional relationships with them. Also, skills of negotiation and the ability to work with a wide variety of people are also great characteristics to highlight to future employers. The ability to be thrown into a new team in a competitive atmosphere and be able to craft creative solutions to hard problems in that setting will be seen as a huge benefit to several employers.
Click here for a news release about the event.