Hope College students won multiple awards during the 34th annual American Model United Nations International Collegiate Conference, held on Saturday-Tuesday, Nov. 18-21, in Chicago.

Featuring the theme “Bringing global perspectives to future leaders,” the event engages students in a professionally run simulation of the United Nations.  The participants act as delegates from the 193 nations that are members of the UN, and address a variety of issues pertaining to current international affairs through Security Councils, a General Assembly, Economic and Social Council commissions, and the International Court of Justice.  A total of 881 students from 94 colleges and universities throughout the United States participated this year.

Alana PolicastroThe entire 16-student team from Hope, which represented Ghana during this year’s conference, received an award for its collective research and writing for the position papers that its members prepared on the various topics represented at the conference. Senior Alana Policastro of Geneva, Illinois, received a best-delegate award for her representation as a justice on the International Court of Justice.  Sophomore Jonas Fraley-Burgett of Kalamazoo and junior Drew Johnson of Midland received best-delegate awards for their joint representation of Ghana on the Economic Commission for Africa.

To prepare, each team conducts research prior to the event regarding theJonas Fraley-Burgett and Drew Johnson perspective of the country to which it has been assigned.  Hope began participating in 2018 through the leadership of Dr. Virginia Beard, associate professor of political science, who mentors the college’s students through a course on the United Nations.

Beard co-advised this year’s students with Kim Finses, who is office manager for the Department of Political Science.  In addition to Policastro, Fraley-Burgett and Johnson, the students participating this year were:  sophomore Ruth Bena Batavia Bakulesh of Kigali, Rwanda; sophomore Lourdes Abril Angel Herrera of San Salvador, El Salvador; sophomore Olivia Krenek of Rochester; senior Natalie Leon of Chicago; junior Marlie McDonald of Saranac; senior Leah Renkema of Grandville; junior Jonah Schaller of Norton Shores; sophomore Kathleen Schnorberger of Toledo, Ohio; senior Hans Siebert of Grand Rapids; junior Christopher Thomas of Caledonia; senior Jacob Van Patten of Petoskey; sophomore Hope Weeda of Grandville; and junior Anna Whittle of Prospect, Kentucky. 

Hope previously participated in 2018, 2019, 2021 and 2022, with a hiatus in 2020 because of the pandemic, representing Haiti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe and Bosnia-Herzegovina.  Weeda won a best-delegate award last year for her participation in a historic Security Council simulation over the Bosnian civil war.

American Model United Nations (AMUN) is a non-profit, educational organization founded in 1989 to provide students with an unparalleled learning experience via the highest quality, most professionally run simulation of the United Nations available, and is an associated nongovernmental organization with the United Nations Department of Public Information.  The Collegiate Conference is held in Chicago each fall during the weekend and Monday and Tuesday prior to American Thanksgiving.  AMUN’s activities also include providing simulations for high school students and adults; consulting with other Model UN programs and conferences; and providing a variety of resources for teachers at all levels.