Dec 05 2011

Making a mark in Germany

Published by Editor at 9:55 am under Home Page, University News

A student delegation from the University of Haifa’s Model United Nations Society, sponsored by the Student Union, became the center of attention at the recent international MUN convention in Hamburg, Germany.

The delegation was invited to Hamburg to participate in the convention alongside 350 students from around the world. Model United Nations is an international project for students that simulates the activities of the UN. In the course of the various activities that took place at the conference, the University of Haifa students worked side by side with fellow students from Egypt, Turkey and Iran, forming social and professional relationships in contrast to the actual relations between the countries above.

Prior to the conference, the Haifa delegation, which consisted of five Jewish and two Muslim students, was interviewed by the largest circulating newspaper in northern Germany, “Hamburger Abendbaltt”. Titled “An Extraordinary Delegation from Israel”, the comprehensive article that the paper published focused on Jewish-Arab coexistence at the University of Haifa and also related to the students’ personal opinion on the Iranian nuclear threat. The students told the paper how life in Israel goes on despite the tense situation.

During the conference the delegation were highly complimented by the conference’s organizing committee, while many of the participating students were interested to know more about the team members, most of them meeting Israelis for the very first time. The majority of students were surprised to find out that Arabs and Jews live and study side by side in many cities in Israel, such as Haifa. The delegation left a very positive impression on their fellow foreign students, many of whom expressed a great desire to visit Israel, specifically Haifa, and maybe even study in one of the many international programs that the University of Haifa has to offer.

During their stay in Hamburg, the MUN delegation visited Helmut Schmidt University. The Haifa students formed strong social ties with their German associates, resulting in a decision to establish formal relations between the MUN societies of the two academic institutes.

“The Delegates dance” hosted by the HamMUN conference was held on the campus of the prestigious Bucerius School of Law. Coincidentally, Dr. Dan Schueftan of the University of Haifa’s School of Political Sciences had been hosted by the school a week earlier, leaving a positive and respectable impression on its students.

The delegation was welcomed to Hamburg by the German Friends Association of the University of Haifa. Chairperson of the Association, Mrs. Sonja Lahnstein, took a key role, along with the Division for External Relations at the University in arranging the visit.

The University of Haifa Model United Nations Society has some 60 members, making it the largest MUN society in Israel. The Society is sponsored by the University of Haifa’s Student Union and supported by the Dean of Students, Division of International Relations, School of Political Sciences and International School.

Sefi Shalam, the current chairman of the Society and head of the delegation to Hamburg, summed up the experience: “Teamwork with students from different countries, cultures and religions is the best way to get to know those who are different from you. I believe that just as I learned more about my fellow committee members’ thoughts and opinions, they too have learned more about Israel through this experience. MUN conferences are rare opportunities that help overcome different opinions, media perspectives and prejudices that shape our approach to different matters. Through teamwork and international cooperation we deal with interests that are relevant on a global scale.”

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