The Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) has named the Canada-Ukraine Model United Nations project team the winner of its 2023 New World Award. The team involves the MacEwan Model UN Club, as well as students from Ukrainian Catholic University and National University Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.
The project began in 2019, when Dr. Chaldeans Mensah teamed up with Larisa Hayduk in the Ukrainian Resource and Development Centre (URDC) to connect the post-secondary institutions and give Ukrainian students the opportunity to learn about international diplomacy and the United Nations (UN).
“In the beginning, we truly did not understand what we could accomplish,” says project co-founder and MacEwan alum Ashlee Rolheiser, Bachelor of Commerce ’19. “This distinctive project and its growth through collaboration has made noteworthy contributions to the internationalization of MacEwan and our Ukrainian institutional partners.”
Over the years, students from each of the three campuses met online for lessons and training, and some MacEwan Model UN students even travelled to Kyiv to meet their Ukrainian counterparts in person. Ukrainian members of the group have also successfully participated in National Model United Nations (NMUN) conferences in Germany and New York.
Hayduk found that the group’s efforts met the qualifications for the CBIE New World Award, which is awarded to Canadian students who contribute to the internationalization of their campus community. She worked with Dr. Mensah and Dr. Galyna Prostsyk of Ukrainian Catholic University on an application that would showcase the key components of the project: peer-to-peer training of the mechanics of diplomatic practice of the UN, and a Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) course between MacEwan, Ukrainian Catholic University and National University Kyiv Mohyla Academy.
“Overall, the project enhanced the internationalization of the curriculum and promoted cross-cultural understanding between Ukrainian and Canadian students,” says Dr. Mensah.
Project member Abhijeet Singh says the award is the result of incredible collaboration.
“This award reflects the hard work and dedication many students have put in for the past five years to make the Canada-Ukraine project possible,” says Singh, who will graduate from the Bachelor of Commerce program in Fall 2023. “This award is also a true testament to the commitment and excellence of the executive team that runs the club each year.”
Hayduk sees the award as a point of pride for the URDC and what the organization can accomplish with the help of students. “The Canada-Ukraine Model United Nations project is a remarkable platform that encourages young minds to engage in critical thinking, diplomacy and global problem-solving,” she says. “This award encourages us to continue supporting and empowering students from MacEwan and our partner universities in Ukraine.”
Rolheiser and Singh will be attending the CBIE National Conference in Vancouver next month, where they will accept the award in person.
That doesn’t mean that the work of the Canada-Ukraine Model UN project is slowing down. Current club president Nathan Poon says that he will continue to pursue opportunities to build international relationships and help other students.
“For the past two summers, our executive team has travelled to Fulda, Germany, to help chair, mentor and educate fellow peers,” says Poon. “The UN Club executive team also has many plans to continue promoting the internationalization of our student community. I hope to increase and maintain our relations with other universities across the world and allow for more cross-cultural learning.”