Seven students and a professor from the political science department traveled to Washington D.C. from Feb. 15-18 to participate in the 33rd Annual International Model North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Conference.
IUP represented the Republic of Turkey and was one of 23 schools from around the world that participated in the conference.
It was hosted by Howard University and took place in the Washington Plaza Hotel.
The students were divided into six separate committees to debate with other schools representing other countries and voted on resolutions.
Michelle Lengel (junior, international studies and history) won the Superior Delegation Award for her representation of Turkey on the Nuclear Planning Group of the model conference.
“It was very rewarding to be recognized by my peers,” Lengel said about her award. “But most importantly, it felt amazing to represent IUP.”
The other students representing Turkey from IUP were Alex Ashcom (political science) on the North Atlantic Council, Chandler Bouton (political science) on the Political Affairs Committee, Christian Cochran (politicial science) on the Military Committee and Kelsey Lewis (political science) and Claire Tranotti (political science) on the Partnerships and Cooperative Security Committee.
Lengel also participated in the Ad Hoc committee to deal with a fictional crisis created by the organizers of the conference. Turkey and the United States were at the center of the fictional scenario and worked together to create a resolution for the crisis.
Political science professor Dr. Rachel Sternfeld planned IUP’s participation and helped students prepare for the conference.
She organized a visit to the Turkish Embassy to talk with representatives of the Turkish government, helped students with research before and during the conference and secured living arrangements for all the students.
“The students performed admirably, especially considering Turkey’s current relationship with NATO and its involvement in the fictional crisis,” Sternfeld said. “It was great seeing my students so engaged and having a good time.”
Deputy Chief of Mission Aydan Karamanoglu and Minister Counselor Aytül Komit at the Turkish Embassy answered questions from IUP students to help them prepare to represent their country at the Model NATO Conference.
They discussed Turkey’s involvement in the Syrian Civil War, tensions between the U.S. and Turkey, Turkish-Russian relations and sanctions against Iran.
“Imagine in an alternative universe that Turkey was the most powerful nation in the world,” Karamanoglu said to the IUP students regarding sanctions against Iran.
“If we passed sanctions against Canada, we would not expect the United States to follow them reasonably. This is nearly impossible. You are neighbors, and we also find it nearly impossible not to trade with our neighbors.”
After the conference, Kelsey Lewis (senior, international studies) proposed the idea to create a club to practice for next year’s conference and other model conferences.
“I heard how other schools offer classes, clubs, and other resources to prepare for these model conferences,” said Lewis. “I think a club would be an awesome way to prepare for model conferences and expand the political science department.”
IUP will be representing Iceland at the next Model NATO conference in February 2019.