PA Model UN Takes on the Capital

Sixty members of the Phillips Academy Model United Nations club attended the 42nd annual North American Invitational Model United Nations (NAIMUN) Conference last weekend. The Conference was hosted and run by Georgetown University in Washington D.C. and featured over 2500 students from 200 schools from across the country. Phillips Academy Model United Nations (PAMUN) did not win the Outstanding School Award, but several Andover participants took home awards for their performances in the mock political and legal debates. Among Andover delegates receiving awards were Stefanos Kasselakis ’05, Ben Levenback ’06, and Sarah Guo ’07. “We took home a lot of awards… close to ten,” reports PAMUN Board Member Yuske Uchiyama ’05. “We did pretty phenomenally; We’re always one of the powerhouses. This year, we all did well, and it all ran really smoothly.” The NAIMUN Conference is one of five largest Model UN conferences in North America. The Washington D.C. Hilton Hotel hosts the conference: the participants stay at the Hilton and the conference’s major activities are held there. The conference itself was run by over 200 Georgetown students, with each committee chaired and staffed by Georgetown students with Model UN experience. These Georgetown students major in fields such as International Affairs, Government, and International Relations. There were 36 committees represented at the conference, each discussing different issues that the real United Nations is currently facing. Committees were broken down into the UN councils that discuss them, including the General Assembly (GA), the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Security Councils, and regional organizations such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Committees addressed issues ranging from the conflict in Iraq to the World Health Organization and its efforts to combat AIDS and HIV in Africa. “I had a great time,” says Thao Nguyen ’07, who represented Ethiopia alongside Amy Fenstermaker ’07 on the “Ad Hoc Iraq” committee. “We met a lot of interesting people.” There were also cabinet simulations, in which participants would assume the role of individual leaders within a country’s cabinet. “The idea is that you represent your country the whole time,” says Uchiyama. “You don’t say ‘I believe,’ you speak as your country and say ‘Yemen believes’.” This requires a fair amount of research, says Nguyen. “We had to write position papers, and research where our country stands on these issues.” Andover’s MUN participants left the PA campus on Friday and stayed in the Washington D.C. Hilton Hotel for the weekend, returning at 7 p.m. on Monday night. A typical day at the conference included six to eight hours of meetings. Conferences were conducted just as they are in the actual United Nations, beginning with roll call, followed by a general discussion of opinions. Delegates then formed resolutions on ways to resolve the issue, which were then presented to the floor and voted on by all delegations present. “Sometimes we had conferences until midnight,” says Nguyen, “and I’d go do homework for a few hours after that.” Some committees met for “emergency sessions.” In this situation, delegates are woken up in their hotel rooms at 2:30 in the morning and led back down into the debate room to handle a crisis or discuss an emergency situation. When conferences were not in session, delegates had the chance to explore Washington D.C. Some participants visited college campuses or hung around the Georgetown campus and local stores, while others went sight-seeing in the city. “There was a dance that was pretty fun,” says Nguyen of the delegate dance held in the Hilton ballroom. “There were over a thousand kids there… it was pretty amazing.” Uchiyama also enjoyed the camaraderie of the trip. “You see a lot of people, maybe some you knew before from your hometown, and a lot of new people. It’s great.” In the fall, PAMUN runs their own invitational tournament, held in the Underwood room with other local boarding schools. “This was extremely different from PAMUN,” says Nguyen. “This was a lot more serious. Some [of the other kids at the conference] take Model UN as a class at their school.” Spring term is a busy term for PAMUN, though they will attend no conferences. The club will continue its weekly meetings, and they also select and train board members for next year. The board members complete a lot of the paperwork for both PAMUN and NAIMUN during the spring in preparation for next year.