Last August 20 to 24, DLSU hosted the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR) Asia Conference in Makati Shangri-La. Aside from hosting HPAIR, DLSU has sent delegations to various international conferences, one of which is the National Model United Nations (NMUN), attended by thousands of students from all over the world.
These international conferences have been pivotal for the internationalization of the University. The University is able to foster and nurture its network of international contacts that it can tap for possible future collaboration, like student or faculty exchange programs or research opportunities. Aside from this, the University is able to earn international distinction and is given a chance to compete or collaborate with other internationally renowned universities, such as Harvard University.
Hosting the HPAIR
This year’s Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR) Asia Conference was hosted by DLSU, specifically under the External Relations and Internationalization Office. The HPAIR Asia Conference is an annual program that aims to bring together students from all over the world and encourage dialogue regarding issues faced in the Asia-Pacific region. It was the first time since 1994 that the conference was hosted in Manila.
HPAIR Executive Director Jonathan Beltran (II, MAPLS) shares that levelling with other international institutions through these conferences shows that the University is ready to compete with other schools globally. Beltran also sees such conferences as opportunities for DLSU to step up while undergoing the shift in the academic calendar and bracing for the ASEAN integration. He also explains that such conferences are a step towards achieving a more learner and research-centered University.
Participation in the NMUN
The National Collegiate Conference Association sponsors the National Model United Nations (NMUN) every year. The conference aims to encourage cooperation and collaboration among the participants by providing hands-on experience in resolution making, in a simulation of the United Nations. Delegates are trained to be knowledgeable in the rules of procedure and be familiar with the process of creating a resolution. Intensive training sessions are conducted months before the conference proper.
College of Liberal Arts External Affairs Director Allen Surla recounts being approached by his students last year to become the faculty adviser and administrative head for NMUN. He accepted their request and helped send the first DLSU NMUN delegation to Washington D.C. in October 2014.
The ability of the first delegation to win an Honorable Mention award in D.C. encouraged them to send another to New York just a few months after, in March earlier this year. Fortunately, the second batch was able to reap another Honorable Mention award, and two delegations are being sent to the upcoming conferences in Washington D.C. and Olomouc, Czech Republic.
Learning outside the classroom
It is a known fact that, for students, attending conferences helps the participants learn various things they wouldn’t have otherwise learned inside a classroom.
Aside from participating in the conferences, Surla believes that students learn even just by preparing and training for it. The intensity, commitment, and effort required for preparations, along with the responsibility of catching up with missed requirements and other extra-curricular activities teach and test the students, molding them to become better members of society.
Meanwhile, the case studies in HPAIR allow delegates from different countries to work together and solve the pressing global issues presented to them. Similarly, in NMUN, delegates work together to create resolutions in addressing the world’s urgent issues.
The skills learned and applied in researching, presenting, communicating, and analyzing are greatly beneficial to the participants. The hands-on experience is essential to the development of a holistic character and is rather difficult to duplicate inside a classroom.
Not a smooth road
Beltran shares that the University administration was very supportive of HPAIR. “In terms of support — moral, financial, everything — I’m pretty sure the University would like to give as much as it can [but] at the same time, you have to know what to prioritize, so I think that’s the hurdle,” he comments.
“For some people they think the University’s support will always be there but you cannot just demand them to give something. [You] have to understand that you’re not just the only part of the University. You’re not the only big project,” Beltran adds.
Initial bidding for the HPAIR began two years ago. DLSU won the bidding in November 2014 and planning commenced shortly after. “We had a fair share of ups and downs until Br. Ricky Laguda, the former President, decided to support our team with the bidding,” Beltran recounts.
On the other hand, during the early stages of NMUN, Surla shares that one of the roadblocks was the locations of the conferences. Additionally, students who wish participate need funding and visas, have to join in trainings after class, and attend make-up classes to make up for missed requirements. However, Surla reasons that because the DLSU delegation to NMUN came forth as a student initiative, it still pushed through.