University at Albany
UAlbany team in the chambers of the European Parliament where things get done

Rockefeller Political Science Students Practice Diplomacy at Model EU in Brussels

Rockefeller Model EU participants on the steps of the
Belgium Federal Parliament

From January 5-10, 2016, a delegation of 13 students from Rockefeller College attended the SUNY Model European Union (MEU) hosted by Vesalius College in Brussels, Belgium, the "capital" of the European Union. The MEU simulates a meeting of the European Council, a regular gathering of heads of state and ministers from all 28 EU member states.

At the simulation, students experienced how representatives negotiate over current critical challenges to the EU and its members, such as the migration and refugee crisis, economic recovery, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations with the United States, and external relations with Russia.

At this year's conference, the Rockefeller delegation, accompanied by Assistant Professor Johannes Karreth and Director of Undergraduate Student Services Zakhar Berkovich, played a special role: four Rockefeller students represented the Dutch delegation, which currently functions as the Presidency of the Council of Ministers. In this capacity, Rockefeller students contributed to the agenda for the conference and helped to ensure productive meetings that led to the successful passing of resolutions. Three Rockefeller students worked as part of a press corps that reported on conference through a variety of outlets, including four issues of a printed newspaper, videos, and social media.

“This trip exceeded all my expectations and gave me new insight into different kinds of government,” said UAlbany junior Cindy Chau, a political science major from the Bronx. “During the simulation, there was actually a point when I thought we really were who we were portraying and the decisions we were making would be affecting the lives of millions.”


Cindy’s classmate Dominik Zadlo played the role of the Prime Minister of Poland. "This conference and the study mission in Belgium and Luxembourg that followed marked a lot of firsts for me — first time on a plane, first time in a foreign country, first MEU conference. One would think these factors would be overwhelming, but that couldn't be further from the truth. This conference was spectacular,” enthused the political science major from Hyde Park, New York. 

Dominik and his UAlbany peers had the opportunity to meet students from all over the world as well as interact with individuals who worked for the European Commission, Flemish Parliament and the U.S. Mission to NATO. “Making new friendships and accomplishing meaningful resolutions with my fellow delegates was a humbling experience as was having the chance to represent the University at Albany and Rockefeller College,” he added. “This has been one of the best experiences of my life and it really makes me want to continue my education and strive to do better.”

With the conference being held in Brussels this year, the Rockefeller delegation also had the opportunity to visit several EU institutions and gain understanding about policymaking at the European level.  Students received a personal briefing at the Council of the European Union from Jeremy Rand, a specialist on international trade at the General Secretariat of the Council. At the MEU opening, Robert Farla, Head of Section of the Europe Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, briefed students about the Dutch presidency of the Council of the EU.

“I think the best part about traveling abroad is the learning experience,” said junior Maria Gonzalez of Jackson Heights, New York. “I was able to meet and speak with EU diplomats and tour government buildings such at the European Council and European Parliament. It was great!  We got to see firsthand where history and policies are made.”

Takaaki Sato, an aspiring political scientist from Ekiyacho, Japan, played Portugal’s Minister of Economics and Finance. "It was an amazing experience to be staying abroad participating in the SUNY Model EU. I believe these kinds of opportunities are indispensable, not only for me but for other students who want to pursue careers involving European Affairs. I would like to thank all concerned for having made this splendid opportunity possible."

View a gallery of photos

Thank you to the generous donors who helped support Rockefeller College students’ registration costs for the Model EU. Rockefeller College’s International Programs Fund provided two scholarships to help defray students’ travel expenses.

Article originally published on February 12, 2016
Contact: Mary Hunt at (518) 442-5264