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News, 3/28/2013

Modeling the United Nations

Finnish national Miina Huotari, a student at the Hawaii Pacific University, represented Yemen in New York for the National Model United Nations –conference. How and why did she end up there?

Miina Huotari. Kuva: Geoffrey Webb.Miina Huotari. Photo: Geoffrey Webb.

Miina Huotari, 24, first applied to study in Hawaii as a joke. When a letter of
acceptance along with a study grant
arrived in the mail, the joke turned into reality. “I guess I’m moving to Honolulu then”,
she thought – and did.

Huotari majors in international studies at Hawaii Pacific University (HPU).
She lives right by the famous
Waikiki Beach. Studying in
Hawaii may seem like paradise
to most Finns, but Huotari promises
it’s pretty much the same as anywhere
else. “I love it there, but everyday life
is everyday life, no matter where you are.”



Learning competitiveness

More than 5000 American and international students participate every spring in the annual National Model United Nations conference in New York. During the week-long conference, student delegations address global UN topics and practice decision-making in a realistic setting.

The conference, organized annually since 1946 aims in advancing understanding of the United Nations and contemporary international issues. “It’s a very competitive conference”, Huotari says.

Studying in Hawaii has already taught this young Finn a lot. “I’ve had to learn to be more competitive in a completely new scale”, she says, adding that her personality hasn’t changed with new-found self-confidence.

The 12 Hawaii Pacific students attending the National Model United Nations Conference all study different things. They like to call their University a mini-version of the UN. “Hawaii Pacific is a very international school. Students come from all over the world”, she explains proudly.

Hawaii Pacific Universityn Hawaii Loa -kampus. Kuva: Miina Huotari.Hawaii Pacific University's Hawaii Loa campus. Photo: Miina Huotari.


From UN Club to Model UN

Huotari was voted Student Body President just last week. She’s also president of the United Nations Club at Hawaii Pacific University. The main goal for the Club is to attend the Model UN Conference.

“At the UN Club we study the United Nations. Once we find out which country we’ll represent at the conference, we start studying that country”, Huotari explains. Participants have to know the UN Protocol like the backs of their hands, because they’ll be addressing real issues in the exact same way as the real delegations do at the actual UN meetings.

Miina Huotari HPU:n valmistujaisseremoniassa Suomen lipun kanssa. Kuva: Miina Huotari.Miina Huotari at HPU's graduation ceremony. Photo: Miina Huotari.

At Model UN, each student committee is presented with three issues to be tackled during the conference. This year, Huotari and her HPU colleagues represented Yemen on 8 different UN Committees, one of them being the Committee on the Excercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP). Their resolutions will be presented to the actual UN committees for reference.

An eye-opening experience

For Huotari, this is her second conference. “It has made me realize how difficult and complex decision-making is at the UN. A foreign country’s human rights issues are difficult to relate to”, she admits.  16-hour days seem too long for anyone to handle, but Huotari has loved every minute of it. She thinks that the conference is a great learning experience for everyone involved. “And not just in an educational sense. It’s also a personal growing experience.”

This year’s NMUN NYC Conferences are held on March 17–21 (A) and March 24–28 (B). Model United Nations Conferences are also held in Finland, more information here.

Tiia Rantanen

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Updated 3/28/2013

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