From 3/16 – 3/19, members of our high school participated in the National High School Model UN Conference in New York City. Below, read the perspectives of an attending teacher and two students, one new to Model UN and one who attended for her final time as a senior.
Nina Renker, Lower School Assistant
Culminating a year’s worth of research, writing, and debate, 25 members of the high school Model UN elective participated in the 48th National High School Model United Nations conference in New York City this past week. The WSGC delegates represented Ethiopia and its interests through committees across the conference, from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and the Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC), to the Commission for Social Development (CSocD) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Over the course of four days and five meeting sessions, student delegates from across the country and the globe grappled with the same questions which UN diplomats themselves work to address on the world stage. Together, through collaboration and compromise, committee members synthesize would-be solutions for some of humanity’s most persistent quandaries.
ThuThuy O’Halogan ‘ 25
When I learned that Model UN was an elective in high school, I was super excited to take it, but I never dreamed I would be the only one from my class. We prepared all year, and finally the conference arrived. When we arrived at the hotel, I was nervous but also excited. The opening ceremony was in the grand ballroom, and when we walked in I was struck by the number of people sitting there. I had never seen so many people from so many different places in one room before, and I felt pure exhilaration. After the ceremony, we had our first sessions. The elevators were so crowded with rushing people that we had to run down 26 flights of stairs in our formal attire to reach our committee rooms. We arrived sweaty and breathless, but also laughing and on time. There were around 120 people–approximately 60 delegations–on my committee, and I only knew one person in the entire room. I didn’t know anything about the procedures and about half the terminology that the Dais used, but we started the session, and eventually, my partner and I gained enough courage to speak. After a few attempts, we were finally able to go up to give our speeches and the fear and adrenaline that coursed through me as I spoke in front of all those staring faces made me feel like I was going to be sick. But after I sat down I had a feeling of satisfaction that I had done it. The next day we had two more sessions, and we spoke a few times at each one. Throughout the conference, I met people from all over the world who spoke all different languages, and I became friends with many of them. The fear began to subside and was replaced solely with excitement. The freedom of walking through the city with only classmates by your side, staying up late, and meeting new people were things that rarely happened to me, especially since the start of COVID. And as I learned more about how the sessions worked, I gained more confidence, which led me to enjoy it even more. It was a combination of learning and fun and was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I can’t wait for next year’s conference!
Francesca Fraim ’22
National High School Model United Nations 2022 (NHSMUN) was such an incredible experience, and I am so grateful that my school and I were able to be a part of it. From my first NHSMUN conference in 2019 during my freshman year, to my most recent and final conference over the past week during my senior year, I learned so much, not only about the world and people around me but also myself. Thanks to COVID-19, I was only able to attend two in-person NHSMUNs; however, they were both equally impactful.
As a freshman I was placed in the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). This large committee was made up of many delegates that proposed and debated solutions on how to best solve water contamination and scarcity in developing nations, specifically focusing on how this predicament affects women globally. That conference taught me the importance of being able to quickly think and then intelligently express my opinion to a room full of strangers from all corners of the globe; in addition, I made wonderful friends and learned the valuable lesson of not wearing high heels when having to walk up crowded stairs to the 26th floor of the Hilton Midtown at 10:30 p.m.
This year, I was placed in a specialized committee called Crisis: Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). In CELAC, we focused on the illegal drug trade running rampant throughout South America, cartel violence, and how both affect the devastating migrant crisis. Researching and discussing this topic opened my eyes, heart and mind wider to the severity of the situation and the importance of quick, helpful involvement and aid from other nations. What made my committee different from most was that it simulated a real crisis committee, meaning that we responded to crisis updates and suffered the consequences if we made the wrong decisions or we were not able to quickly enough come to a consensus on solutions. This committee was about 1/5th the size of my committee freshman year, which meant every delegate’s voice and opinion were constantly put on the spot and questioned. I loved it. As I sat around our rectangular table during one of the sessions, something struck me – the gratitude I hold for being trained and nurtured in the ability to express myself with confidence and purpose, no matter what situation I am in. I credit much of that to Waldorf Model UN and our fabulous advisors, Mrs. Yaeger and Mr. Devaney. I also enjoyed the independence of being able to navigate and safely explore the city with my friends. As I will soon embark on my college journey, I have nothing but appreciation and respect for what Waldorf’s Model UN program, and NHSMUN as a whole, have given me and many other students.
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