Center for International Programs

Hussein Fayad '24 (above) is an international student from Lebanon studying in the U.S., but for three days in early November, he pledged allegiance to the Netherlands 

Hussein, a delegate from the Netherlands, was advocating stricter global measures to restrict the use of chemical and biological weapons. The Dutch were able to form an international alliance among like-minded nations like France, Italy, the U.S., and Japan, among others. When their resolution went to the United Nations floor for a vote, it passed, which was a major win for Siena.

Hussein revived Siena's Model United Nations club in the spring of last year, and ever since, they've been preparing for intercollegiate competition. From November 4-6, a delegation of 12 Saints traveled to Washington, D.C. to compete in the National Model United Nations against hundreds of colleges and universities from around the world.

 "I wanted to start the club at Siena because of how important international issues are to all of us. They demand more attention. It's important to understand the culture, history, and politics of other countries, and how those dynamics impact all of our lives."

Two months before the competition, each participating institution is assigned a country. Siena was randomly linked to the Netherlands, and the work began to understand Dutch life, economics, politics, and perspective. During competition, Siena's delegates represented the Netherlands in various committees, from the Human Rights Council to the UN Environmental Assembly. Each committee of international delegates then tackled a pair of topics, from global vaccine distribution to the rights of indigenous people. 

Throughout the conference, students are judged on their diplomacy and ability to strike compromise and advocate on behalf of their nation. In Siena's first Model UN competition since Hussein brought back the club, Siena was recognized with Honorable Mention status. 

"It's amazing. I was so proud of all the Siena delegates," said Hussein. "They were prepared, they gave it their all, and it paid off. It's intimidating speaking in front of more than 100 people, but once the Siena team got there, we were hooked. We all had a great time."

Siena's delegation, representing a country to be determined, plans to compete at a Model UN competition next year in New York City or possibly at Harvard. Students from any major are welcomed and encouraged to get involved in the Model UN club. If interested, email modelun@siena.edu.

The Siena delegation took time to see the sights and monuments while in D.C. They made it to the White House, Capitol Hill, the Lincoln Memorial, and Washington Monument. 

"It was a great opportunity to visit our nation's capital and meet other school leaders from across the world. We got to talk about real world issues with other college-aged individuals who know and were also excited about global events and politics. I think the most rewarding part was learning about the art of diplomacy and how issues impact other cultures differently. I am honored our team received an honorable mention and am thankful to be part of an amazing team." 

Matthew Connor '25

"Delegates take great pride in seeing the resolution they worked so hard for pass. The anticipation when the chair asks who's in favor and then counts the votes, waiting to see if your resolution succeeds, is thrilling. All our delegates were able to see their contributions implemented. It's a great achievement that they should all be proud of." 

Hussein Fayad '24