Samford's Model United Nations team returned from Spain this week with top honors from an international Model UN simulation hosted by the University of Salamanca.
The March 15-25 trip included rare access to the inner workings of Spanish government. Former Prime Minister of Spain José María Aznar arranged for the Samford group to be received at the Foundation FAES as well as the Government Palace and Congress.
In addition to Aznar, the team met with leading researchers in politics and economics, and with Ildefonso Castro, National and International Security Advisor to the current Spanish Prime Minster, Mariano Rajoy.
"Needless to say, when our students told about these visits to their Spanish MUN fellow delegates, they were overwhelmed by questions, since even for Spaniards it is not easy to obtain this type of access," said Samford Model UN advisor and political science professor Serena Simoni.
At the MUN simulation in Salamanca, Simoni said, every member of Samford's team received personal awards.
Devon Arnold received Best Delegate Award in the Human Rights Council and Surf Kirubel was awarded the Honorable Mention Delegate in the Security Council--the two highest awards possible at this MUN.
Andrew Mays was invited to apply for a committee chair position at another MUN event in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, in fall 2012. If accepted, his trip would be funded by the Romanian MUN.
Devon Arnold, Kathleen Artman, Andrew Mays and Mary Evelyn Todd were voted by their peers in Salamanca as "most likely to become a diplomat in the future" because of their outstanding performance at the simulation.
Samantha McFarland, Gabriella Cappo and Thomas Espy (along with the others) were asked by their Chairs--because of the Samford students' knowledge and preparation--to facilitate the debates in their respective committees.
Simoni said the organizers of the MUN in Salamanca declared the Samford team to be "the most well-prepared by far".
Samford's team also presented in the closing ceremony of the MUN, held in the room were Christopher Columbus pleaded with Queen Isabella of Spain to fund his famous expedition.
Simoni described the team's work as "another stellar performance," and noted that "it is through programs like MUN that future generations learn how to debate constructively with fellow peers from all over the world and, eventually, make this world a little better".