Against the Odds: Overcoming Adversity to Attend NMUN | Guest Post by the University of Bridgeport MUN Club

by Ryan on May 3, 2011

Today’s guest post was written by Lincoln LaGrotteria, the Head Delegate of the University of Bridgeport delegation to NMUN. In this post, Lincoln shares his delegation’s story of how they overcame team drama and financial barriers in order to attend the National MUN Conference — and walk away with a delegation award.

The University of Bridgeport overcame team drama and financial barriers to represent Maldives at NMUN and receive a delegation award

The University of Bridgeport has enjoyed considerable success at National Model UN Conferences; winning an Outstanding Position Paper Award in 2006, an Honorable Mention Delegation Award in 2007 and two Distinguished Delegation Awards in 2010 (at the New York and Czech Republic conferences).

However, this year’s delegation was honored with both Distinguished Delegation and Outstanding Position Paper, surpassing all previous awards won by our school, even though we were hard pressed to train and prepare, and we had to overcome additional obstacles including internal re-structuring of club officers and activities, financial barriers that threatened our attendance, a shortened time of training, and a room-block situation that almost left us without a room in New York City.

Click “Learn More” below to read Lincoln’s story!

To begin, none of this would have been possible without the constant support and tutelage, however rushed, of our esteemed advisors Professor William Lay and Miguel Arroyo. With an internal club situation escalating into a fiasco, our advisors were able to effectively train and prepare a very novice delegation in just over 2 months.

When we suddenly lost our core of veteran delegates, newly elected President Kirstin Jones actively recruited students who seemed interested. A team was formed just 6 weeks before the position papers were due March 15. Understanding the need to press, our advisors made it a point to fill every club and delegation meeting with as much information as possible, so as not to waste time.

Miguel Arroyo, Model UN advisor and ad model

Funny enough, all that almost went for naught as we came close to not attending the conference. Several weeks before the start of the NMUN Conference in New York, our lodging reservation with the Marriott Marquis was somehow miscommunicated and we were left without a room. Several urgent phone conversations and emails were placed, and with the help of the NCCA Advisory Committee, we were able to book two rooms at the Holiday Inn Express for our delegation of eight.

At the time, we were so grateful to be able to attend we did not further investigate just how far we might have to walk each day. As it turned out, that distance spanned 15 blocks and ran 20-30 minutes every day from the Holiday Inn (located south of Madison Square Garden) to the Marriott Marquis (located in Times Square). Each morning and evening, before and following committee sessions, respectively, our delegation made the trek with lightheartedness and humor.

The team had to run 20-30 minutes to the conference from their hotel every morning -- but they grew closer together and kept their spirits high

When some delegations might have been angered by this inconvenience, it almost suited our best advantage: cohesiveness. Looking to find strengths within our team to find a clear advantage during training and preparation — whether it was in the form of a strategic advantage properly understanding the rules of procedure, or preparation for writing working papers and draft resolutions, or how to deliver effective speeches — this year’s delegation seemingly stumbled on the clear advantage of overall cohesiveness, coupled with an uncanny ability to adapt.

It was truly amazing to see just how effectively and efficiently each of our delegates supported, comforted, and complemented one another as we made our journey from the Holiday Inn to the Marriott. We used the time to bond, making humorous observations and enjoying the company, and stories, of each delegate.

From there, everything seemed to roll smoothly.

The team bonded together and grew more cohesive through its struggles

But, interestingly enough, we were also at the common disadvantage of being a group of single delegations when schools often sent double delegations for each committee. Each of our delegates had to work at double capacity from the beginning in order make up for lost time and, more importantly, attempt to interact with twice as many delegates in order to have as much face time as double delegations would. Overall, however, this did not detract from the experience; rather it seemed to enhance the experience for most of us.

Working the disadvantages from a physical location aspect, a numbers limitation, and short training, we really just tried to make an effort to ensure that every moment counted that much more. Although we were well aware of the limitations and obstacles that we faced, we tried to overcome them together as a group instead of individually. We did not seem to be restrained by these seemingly endless factors, but were motivated by them to continue from morning to night, staying in character and playing the part, representing the Republic of Maldives in the best way each of us could.

The team worked hard to represent Maldives the best way they could

Then, when we met with diplomats from the Permanent Mission of the Maldives to the UN in New York, a very urgent sense and real feeling of being a delegation came over us. Not only were we required to represent the positions of the government of the Maldives, we now could put a very real name and face to the positions we were supporting.

From that perspective, the keys to success were quite clearly in the intangibles — our cohesiveness and camaraderie — paired with the excellent and intense training and tutelage of our advisors. We came to feel that we could represent the Republic of Maldives in the best way possible — and we were honored to represent such an amazing country.

The team was inspired by their mission briefing at the Permanent Mission of Maldives to the UN

Finally, we realized that winning the awards of Distinguished Delegation and Outstanding Position Paper might legitimize or enhance our activities in some way. In reality, it kind of does; but at a more fundamental level, the experience of the NMUN Conference taught us all one very true lesson: no matter the odds and no matter the stakes, anyone can succeed. And when we were facing a challenge, it is in a diplomat’s best interest to listen, then lead; rather than speak, then follow.

Looking towards the future, most of us cannot wait for the new challenges ahead that we may encounter in order to attend next year’s conference. But, at the end of the day and no matter the obstacles that stand in our way, it truly seems worth it!

Overcoming adversity, the University of Bridgeport received the awards of Distinguished Delegation and Outstanding Position Papers

Congratulations to the University of Bridgeport Model UN team! And thank you to Lincoln and Miguel for sharing their delegation’s story.

Did your NMUN delegation have a similar experience? Feel free to share your NMUN story in the comments below!

  • KFC

    Wow great story and reflection! Love the perseverance and positive mentality of this team! Great job and congrats with the award!

  • Frank LaGrotteria

    Great Job! Nice report, fantastic result

  • Chunjuan Nancy Wei

    Great story! Thank you, Lincoln, for sharing that experience with us. I am very proud of you, the 2011 UB Team!

  • Maria Berges

    Congratulations! This is an amazing story. Very inspirational!


  • Peter Duveen

    Truly amazing. Well-written account. Congratulations!

Previous post:

Next post: