Model United Nations Hosts First Conference in Two Years on Zoom

The chairs for the Model U.N. conference were the club’s Associate Board members. They had been preparing for the conference since the summer of 2021.

On Sunday, Andover hosted its first Model United Nations Conference since 2019. Delegates from Phillips Academy, Concord Academy, Northfield Mount Hermon, and Andover High School gathered on Zoom for an online conference. Many participants were hoping for an in-person conference, but school officials advised against it due to the sudden increase in Covid-19 cases.

Amara Neal ’22, a Co-Secretary General of Phillips Academy Model U.N. (PAMUN), shared her preference for in-person conferences rather than virtual ones. In-person conferences allow for more interaction with other delegates and give people a chance to create authentic relationships, according to Neal.

“In-person Model U.N. conferences are by far a better experience because I feel like a lot of Model U.N. is learning about people skills and learning about how people can fit together to collaborate and how you can work around different personality types. Even outside of the debate aspect of it, I think being around people and that vibrance of the conference is just something you can’t really recreate online,” Neal said.

PAMUN previously made an appeal for an in-person conference, which the administration declined due to the uncertainty of the percentage of vaccinated students. Karsten Rynearson ’22, a member of the Senior Board who gave the opening speech of the PAMUN Conference,

“It was very hectic around if we should host it in person or if we should have done Zoom…As you know, a lot of our protocols have been pretty lax, but then again, we were scared that another stream would happen like it did…But I digress, it went pretty well. I was super excited to see us, even though it was smaller than usual,” said Rynearson.

Joseph Masterson ’23, a PAMUN Chair and member of the Associate Board, shared similar sentiments with Neal, adding that the virtual event caused some participants to drop out entirely. Despite the difficulties, the board was still able to put together a successful event for all participants.

“The school was still not really interested in bringing in other students from other schools for a non-athletic event where they can make sure vaccines and boosters were mandated. They denied our request to have an in-person conference. So we swapped to online, which was a little bit of a bummer for everyone… and I think it did affect our numbers. But we, the entire board, made it work. We all worked really hard, and I’m proud of what we accomplished,” said Materson.

Rynearson chose the two topics of debate. The General Assembly debated the topic of gender violence, while the United Nations Commission for Social Development (UNCSocD) focused on access to resources in reference to gender related topics.

“[The] specific topics we chose were domestic violence and also violence specifically against trans people… and also just to think about the amount of hate crimes that have occurred against trans women, specifically trans women of color, a lot in the United States, but also worldwide. I think that’s a topic that often goes unaddressed in Model U.N. spaces… and to think about that from an international diplomacy standpoint, in terms of creating safer spaces for trans people—that was really important. And [the other topic was] access to menstrual resources. In a lot of places, the tax still exists on menstrual goods, which makes it a lot more difficult for women and other people who have periods to pay taxes and also just having access in the first place,” said Rynearson.

Though the delegates were of varying experience levels, Masterson believed that everyone did well regardless of expertise. Additionally, he believes the conference—albeit online—allowed people to gain social and academic insight.

“We had a couple of students with prior Model U.N. experience, not always here. Most of the students were at least novice, but they all performed really well for our first conference. And the dynamic between the students was extremely friendly. We all got to know each other. Social media was exchanged, people made new friends; it was quite interesting. We had some fun afterwards once the voting was in. And overall, I think all the delegates improved from their various different experience levels,” said Masterson.

Rynearson shared similar sentiments as Masterson, expressing much gratitude for the flexibility of all those who put together the conference, despite obstacles. Rynearson hopes that the future of PAMUN will remain bright as he and the rest of the Senior Board depart.