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Northeastern delegation nabs top International Model NATO honors

There aren’t often clear winners and losers in international politics. But at the International Model NATO Conference in Washington, D.C. earlier this month, a group of Northeastern students came out victors.

Northeastern’s International Relations Council, which also runs model Arab League and United Nations programs, fielded two delegations representing the United Kingdom and Lithuania in the international competition. The event featured teams of college students from across the United States, Canada, the UK, Italy and Belgium.

The UK delegation placed first overall out of 26 teams from a total of 21 schools, while the Lithuanian delegation came in fifth. Northeastern also won all six awards handed out by faculty, who judged how effectively student delegates worked to address international issues during the mock NATO session.

“I think we did very well, and we’re very proud of how our teams performed,” said Matt Cournoyer, a senior political science major and the head delegate for the UK group. “Both our Northeastern delegations demonstrated a well-researched understanding of international issues and British and Lithuanian policy and were able to effectively lead discussions and debates in the committee sessions.”

At the start of the three-day conference that wrapped up on Feb. 19, Northeastern students had a chance to meet with diplomats from the countries they represented, which included traveling to the British Embassy to discuss foreign policy and NATO-related issues. (Though the Lithuanian Embassy was closed due to the nation’s independence day, Northeastern’s delegation was able to meet with embassy officials ahead of the competition.)

Northeastern’s delegations have been preparing since early fall to compete at the International Model NATO, said Philip D’Agati, faculty advisor to the International Relations Council and an academic specialist in the political science department.

“It is a great source of pride for us to all to represent Northeastern’s record of excellence in experiential education by winning this top honor in an international conference,” D’Agati said.

For Northeastern students, the competition provided the opportunity to turn a political issue from across the globe into a tangible real-world lesson.

“The topics discussed at this conference are highly relevant to what’s going on in the world,” said Ken Lewis, a senior political science and economics dual major and the head Lithuanian delegate. “Being able to debate with fellow students about issues ripped straight from the newspaper headlines is a thrilling feeling. After the conference, these current events no longer seem vague and abstract, but instead feel real and urgent.”