Fostering diplomacy

Model UN shapes tomorrow's leaders today

January 23, 2024
students sit at harkness table discussing model UN

What does it take to be a change-maker on the global stage? More than 400 students from 30 schools across the United States visited campus in November to find out during Exeter’s flagship Model UN conference, PEAMUN XV. 

Career diplomat Jorge Ryder Torres-Pereira, who has served as Portugal’s ambassador to seven countries including France, China and Thailand, kicked off the weekend gathering with a lively keynote address that offered students rarefied insights on world politics.

“It was a fascinating speech about what life is like as a diplomat,” says Alex Rosen ’24, a director general for PEAMUN XV, who had lunch with Torres-Pereira following his remarks."

He spoke about the severity of the issues he has dealt with, such as helping to broker ‘secret pacts’ between Portugal and China, and about problems like world hunger and how many of them are caused by polarization and extremism. ... I found it particularly interesting how he’s spent time representing Portugal in both Tel Aviv, Israel, and Ramallah, in the West Bank. ... His speech was also humorous, ending with a wholesome picture of him holding a panda, which he joked might serve as encouragement for us to become diplomats.” 

Career diplomat Jorge Ryder Torres-Pereira offered key insights on world politics during his keynote address.

Inspired by Torres-Pereira’s words, students assumed their roles as mock delegates to the United Nations, each representing a nation and its policies. This year’s meeting featured 11 committees on such hot-button topics as cyber espionage, the Haymarket Affair and environmentalism in the Amazon rainforest. At each turn, the students offered their creative point of view while honing their public speaking, negotiating and collaboration skills.

“I have been involved in MUN since my freshman year, and it is truly one of my favorite clubs on campus,” says Natalie Welling ’24, who was a chair of the Haymarket Affair Committee. “I am really passionate about political engagement.” 

More than 400 students from across the country gathered on Exeter's campus to participate in PEAMUN XV.

PEAMUN is especially meaningful as it is developed and run by students. “My experience participating in MUN comes solely from Exeter,” Patrick Snyder ’25 says. “My first conference was at PEAMUN 2022, and I instantly fell in love with the debate and strategic arguments.” This year, Snyder transitioned from delegate to vice chair in general assemblies to further expand his Model UN knowledge and responsibilities.

Next up: The Model UN Club will be taking their skills to Harvard MUN at the end of January, MIT MUN in early February and Cornell MUN in April.

Editor's note: This article first appeared in the Winter 2024 issue of The Exeter Bulletin.