By Carly Stone and Sabina Hodzic
To cap off their season, Jamesville-DeWitt High School Model United Nations students got the opportunity to act as delegates from different countries in Boston, Mass. The MUN club at J-DHS, led by social studies teachers and MUN advisers Jamie Crawford and Donna Oppedisano, traveled on March 28 to participate in a conference that incorporated over 800 students from multiple schools from mostly downstate territories like New York City or Westchester County.
Mrs. Oppedisano and Ms. Crawford brought a record amount of 26 students to their fourth and final conference just this year. J-DHS students performed “fabulously,” said Mrs. Oppedisano. Of these 26 J-DHS students, juniors Tal Frieden and Amanda Mikesell took home two of the largest awards that J-DHS participants received. Mikesell represented the United Kingdom in one of the 1979 committees. She earned the Best Delegate in 1979 award for her debates with other countries. Frieden also won the Best Delegate award. Frieden took part in the Asean Joint Forum and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. He debated on forming better trade between Eastern Europe and Asia and creating better security against terrorists.
The other four awards were won by sophomores Sargon Bebla, honorable mention, and Daniel McGann, Best Delegate award, junior Hunter Siegel, honorable mention, and senior Morgan Sawyer who took home the Outstanding Delegate award.
The layout of the conference models an United Nations debate. Months in advance, students are assigned a person or a country that they will represent at the conference. At club meetings, ideas are bounced from one member to another in order to prepare as best they can. At the conferences, two types of committees are formed. 1979 committees focus on problems from 1979 and the bigger committees focus on issues and how a country would deal with them based on their leadership and laws.
Why 1979? The year 1979 was incorporated into conferences because of the year’s historical importance. “It was a pivotal year for world history”, said Mrs. Oppedisano, “it was the beginning of the end of the Cold War” and “the Vietnam war had ended just years before”.
Frieden and Mikesell agreed that the conference was innovative. “They had new technology that they haven’t used before,” said Frieden. A new tool was Google Docs which was used to pass information between groups and give them the chance to interact technologically. This time, in order to solve the crises, they had to pass their thoughts between committees in order to find a solution. In one scenario, Russia had hacked the US Stock Exchange so Frieden and his committee passed notes to others to solve the crisis.
In order to get to Boston, the kids had to fundraise to shorten the costs everyone had to pay. Sales of pizza, granola, and baked goods helped the kids earn money for the conference. Besides debating, the students were given the ability to spend free time outside of the hotel at shopping centers that surrounded it.
The returning club members have high hopes for next year’s action. “Hopefully we can go to another international conference,” said Mikesell, “maybe we’ll train our delegates more in the beginning”. No matter what, the MUN club will be back and ready to dominate once again next year.