Run by Mr. Yanchuk and Ms. Oppedisano, Model UN is a club in which students debate and use teamwork to come up with the best solution to real-life global issues. Every Model United Nations conference can be explained as simple as a smaller-scale version of the UN but as a high school club. Delegates will get to choose the committees they would like to join and the topics they would like to learn about. After they’ve figured out what committee they want to join and what topics they’ll be learning about, they will then choose a country they would like to represent. Once a delegate knows everything they think they need to, they’ll find solutions to these issues to be prepared for the conference. Usually, every committee will have multiple topics they’ll discuss over multiple days at a single meet, however with virtual conferences, this is something that has not been possible.
Under these new circumstances, conferences have been fully virtual on Zoom while taking up 6 to 8 hours of delegates’ Saturdays. Of course with technology, things are bound to go wrong. During conferences, complications like microphones being delayed and in some instances delegates being unable to be heard by others due to connection issues. However, even with the online complications, members have been adjusting very well to this new style of conference.
With the conferences now switching online, there has been a multitude of changes made to adjust to these new circumstances. Co-president Michael Bratslavsky said, “All of the people who attend conferences are just as respectful, so participating in conferences is just as easy.” Even under these new circumstances all of the officers have made it very clear that conferencing on Zoom has been no harder than normal. Vice President Shamus Endries explained, “With our wonderful members and our diligent officers and advisers, we’ve been able to adapt very well to the new structure.”
Along with how adjusting to the online conferences has been going, everyone can agree they’re glad this isn’t permanent. Co-president Kate Barclay said, “I prefer in-person conferences better. I think one of the best things about MUN is the experience of going to different places with your classmates and then meeting new people. It’s a lot harder to connect with people online and it’s harder to create bonds that you would usually create in an in-person conference.”
Stemming from what the officers felt positively about, they, like anyone, are being somewhat negatively affected by these new restrictions put in place since the start of the pandemic. Endries said, “This year it’s been more of a challenge to manage time especially with conflicting club schedules or time constraints, but we’ve been able to make the best out of it and stay organized with helpful feedback from members of the club.” Another thing that’s been a hard adjustment for many, is the lack of in-person social interaction for the past few months. Barclay said, “It is easier because you can just send a quick text or Facetime and you know that they are home and can answer. Not because you can’t form as good of a connection as you would if you were face to face as well as it’s less productive with distractions.” She added, ”Zoom, as wonderful as [it is], it will never be the same as in person. When talking to a camera, certain eye contact queues and body language are easily missed, unfortunately.”
Despite all of this, the JD Model UN team is making their best out of the situation. Bratslavsky explained that the changes have been “quite different and more challenging at times, but I love spending time organizing meetings, which is made so much easier with all of the fantastic officers.”
The Model UN officers have tried their best to engage new delegates and teach them about conferences. Model UN includes life skills that improve research skills, public speaking, teamwork, negotiation, and many other skills that could potentially benefit students in real-life situations. One of these teaching methods developed was a Kahoot, which was created by all the officers to have all the terms and rules that the delegates will need to know for all conferences. The officers motivated all the new delegates to do their best, by awarding the top 3 winners of the Kahoot with king-size chocolate bars.
This past conference, J-D attended Hilton MUN 2020. The conference took place virtually on Saturday, November 21st. With all the help from the officers, it was easier for all the freshmen and new delegates to get prepared with their Position Papers, which was a challenge this year during the pandemic. J-D won 9 awards at the conference. The following delegates received an award:
Karunmay Aggarwal – Best Delegate
Kasia Kirnie – Outstanding Delegate
Isaiah Steinberg – Outstanding Delegate
Nathan Warren-Faricy – Outstanding Delegate
Mark Bratslavsky – Outstanding Delegate
Sam Kim – Outstanding Delegate
Muhammed Abdel – Best New Delegate
Sophia Caputo – Honorable Mention
Teddy Todorov – Honorable Mention