GHS Model UN Team is Victorious in Virtual Conference
Updated: Mar 25
On Jan. 15, 25 GHS students logged on to a virtual Model UN conference from the warm comfort of their homes, embarking on possibly one of the most exhilarating events of the school year: the 20th annual session of Columbia Model United Nations (CMUNCE).
Model UN (MUN), is an extracurricular activity in which students represent a country or character and try to solve the issue at hand within a simulated committee. Besides being a great way to foster imagination and generate creative solutions, conferences also allow students to network, interacting with others from different backgrounds. The main skills required in MUN include researching, writing, debating and public speaking, in addition to leadership, teamwork and critical thinking.
There are three main types of committees in a standard MUN conference: General Assemblies (GAs), Specialized Committees and Crisis Committees. GAs are typically the largest committees, and delegates debate on subjects pertaining to international peace and security, including development, disarmament and human rights. Specialized Committees, which are smaller than GAs, generally simulate one of the 14 ECOSOC committees. Lastly, Crisis Committees are the smallest but most fast-paced and thrilling committees, which are designed to make delegates think on their feet. Delegates represent characters rather than countries and aim to assert their viewpoints to amass the most social, political or economic power by the end of the conference.
CMUNCE, the most recent conference, primarily consisted of Crisis Committees, from the Cuban Missile Crisis to the Pokemon Go Fiasco. The GHS team had one of the best performances we had ever seen. Awards are typically given to students who demonstrate exceptional leadership, speaking and debating skills, and there are four different categories: Verbal commendation, honorable, outstanding, and best. The Best Delegate award is given to the delegate who performs well within the committee and demonstrates the most knowledge; this is the most distinguished award in MUN. The GHS team won four Best Delegate awards.
While reflecting on the conference, junior Veda Swaminathan, one of the club’s vice presidents and a winner of the Best Delegate award, said, “Winning a gavel, the physical prize for a Best Delegate, feels amazing, but there are definitely other aspects of MUN and this conference that made me feel like a winner. I absolutely enjoyed watching our club… reap the rewards of [our] hard work… Everyone had fun and enjoyed themselves, which I see as the true marker for success.”
Junior Benjamin Shi, the vice president of Crisis, was on the Xi’an Incident of 1936 committee and also shared his meaningful insights from the conference: “I was super proud with how the students performed in this conference! For the past few months, we had done many crisis drills and simulations to prepare for this conference and future ones, and it is amazing to see how well the students have caught on and become experts. It is quite an achievement for many of them to do their first crisis and even win an award!"
Sophomore Nicole Orlofsky, representing Robert F. Kennedy on the Cuban Missile Crisis committee, said, “I really enjoyed the conference because I was able to explore a historical event that greatly interests me, but the committee also allowed me to divert from the historical canon and create my own events and updates.”
This conference couldn’t have been possible without the club’s adviser, Ian Tiedemann.
Swaminathan said, “As a club, we have to thank… Mr. Tiedemann for being so encouraging and supportive through every conference. The online experience is frustrating and difficult, and [he] is always available to talk to us during the conference when the experience gets to be too much. We appreciate him so much!”
Reflecting on the conference, Tiedemann said, “We’ve had to make a pretty large pivot to organize and train students for an online… conference, [but] just by coming to Model UN meetings every week, I think we’ve gotten more comfortable. One of the most nuanced skills besides public speaking [in MUN] is networking. In digital format, that’s so strange, [but] people are giving up their time to pursue something for the love of learning.”