After five years as a member of California State University, Dominguez Hills’ (CSUDH) award-winning Western Model United Nations (WestMUN) delegation, Arnaud Lukombo has been nominated the prestigious position of secretary-general for the 2017 WestMUN conference.
Lukombo’s nomination came during the 2016 WestMUN conference at Santa Barbara City College on March 31-April 2. The secretary-general is the highest-ranking student position in the conference. Some of his most essential roles will be serving as leader of the committee chairs, working directly with the WestMUN Board of Directors who organize the conference, and the possibility of providing input in choosing topics that will be discussed during committees at next year’s WestMUN.
“Winning the secretary-general nomination was great. It’s another step for me in terms of increased responsibility as a student who will be learning while working behind the scenes doing all the dirty work for the conference. And I will also be learning as a professional because I will be graduating this spring [before the conference],” said Lukombo, who will be conferred his bachelor’s degree in political science and will then take a semester off to prepare to apply for Ph.D. programs. “This also says a lot about the quality of Cal State Dominguez Hills’ MUN program and our exceptional professors.”
Lukombo also received a “Best Speaker” award representing the Russian Federation in the United Nations Security Council at this year’s WestMUN. He was awarded along with five other CSUDH political science students, who were among the university’s 20-student delegation.
The other awardees were:
- Anthony Farley: “Best Speaker,” representing the United States in the Security Council;
- Maria “Bea” Gadduang: “Most Diplomatic Delegate,” representing the Philippines in the High Commission for Refugees;
- Manuela Aguilar: “Honorable Mention,” representing Mexico in the Economic and Social Committee;
- Paul Elias: “Honorable Mention,” representing Israel in the General Assembly;
- Alessandria Howard: “Honorable Mention,” representing Jordan in the United Nations General Assembly.
Guaddang was awarded for the second year in a row at WestMUN. She said that knowing how to compromise when writing a resolution, and which parts to “give up” in order for someone else’s language to be put in is critical to coming to a consensus and finding a solution to an issue.
“It’s definitely an honor to win. The award also reflects on my growth and our program’s growth,” said Guaddang. “I believe the reason I received the award is because the chair of the committee recognized that I was the one really spearheading the group and taking the initiative on the resolution during committee. I also presented a lot of the ideas that passed in the resolution.”
WestMUN is a unique educational experience that puts students into the roles of diplomats and requires that they negotiate across cultural, political and economic barriers from the perspective of their adopted country. This year, the delegates focused on the impact the international community has on the environment as they worked on such issues as environmentally displaced refugees, rural electrification, and climate change.
CSUDH’s Political Science Department has offered a Model UN class during the spring semester since the mid-1990s. Similar to other Model UN programs throughout the country, the class is designed to train students in the art of diplomacy, public speaking, debate, negotiation and consensus building.
“Undoubtedly, these outstanding performances are the result of effective teaching and student dedication. These accomplishments would have never been possible if it was not for the diligent, patient, supportive and dedicated work of both Dr. Hamoud Salhi [associate dean of the College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences], and Jo Ann Paanio [adjunct professor of political science],” said Lukombo, who is president of CSUDH’s Association of Political Science Students. “Both taught us useful skills and notions that go far beyond the realm of a class. Indeed, our Model United Nations course does not just prepare one for a simple competition.”