Model UN takes first in New York conference

Model UN takes first in New York conference

MODEL PAIR: At the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, Southdelegates Grace Kilpatrick and Matt Baeckelandt listen during the closing ceremonies of the ModelUN conference. Kilpatrick and Baeckelandt were chosen by the chairs of their committee, theDisarmament and International Security Committee, to present the group’s resolution on transnationalborder security in Africa.

Nish Asokan, staff writer

South’s Model UN team of 14 student delegates won first place in the National High School Model United Nations (NHSMUN) conference in New York City on March 8.

This was South’s first year attending the conference, which had around 3,000 students total, according to club sponsor Terrence Jozwik. The conference’s closing ceremony, where the South delegation received their honor, took place at the United Nations Headquarters.

Besides their first place win overall, the South team also won third place in the research and preparation category and had the honor of speaking in four delegations before the attending schools, according to junior delegate Kali Croke. Croke said that before the conference, the team did not know how well they would place in such a large competition.

“To be honest, like going into it, we did not expect to win,” Croke said. “We knew that we were good, but being a five-year-old club, and our first time [travelling by] plane, and our first time experiencing so many international delegates, we knew that we were going to try but not necessarily place, which we were totally fine with.”

The South delegates were assigned the country of Ethiopia for the conference, and Croke said that her highlight of the conference was meeting the Ethiopian ambassador.

“So, we actually were talking to the man we were technically representing, like he’s the one that goes and does exactly what we’re doing, except in real life,” Croke said. “You know, just seeing the person we’re actually epitomizing, all this time, and hearing from him the actual struggles that Ethiopia deals with, not just us reading stuff online, that was really cool. And I actually used what he said in committee and it ended up being a really big part of our resolution and stuff, and that was really fun.”

According to Jozwik, South was on 12 different committees of the UN representing Ethiopia. Each committee dealt with a unique issue, ranging from socioeconomics, national security, disarmament and human rights, for which students prepared by reading up to 70 pages of research on the topic of their committee, followed by research on their country’s position. Students then wrote 4-14 page position papers. Jozwik said he sees the team continuing to improve.

“This is our fifth full year,” Jozwik said. “Each year the number of students increases. […] Each year we become more adept at the training we do in preparing for conferences.”

Junior delegate Matthew Baeckelandt agreed that reaching the level of competition in New York was a big symbol of the club’s progress.

“[Model UN] has gotten a lot bigger, and over our first week of meetings, we had over 100 members come, and also our team has gotten a lot more competitive, so we’ve gotten better delegates, and we’re off to better conferences,” Baeckelandt said.

At their last conference at the University of Chicago, South claimed two first places, two second places and three third places out of 125 schools, according to Jozwik.

Croke said for the weeks prior to leaving for New York, the team met to strategize.

“What’s different about this conference is that we are competing as a team,” Croke said. “So now more than ever we have to collaborate and work together and talk about strategies about how we can win as a group.”

The team’s success in New York confirmed their status as one of the top teams in the nation, a young “dark horse,” according to Croke.

“I definitely think that as time goes on, especially now that we know we can, we will start travelling and we’ll start going to [..] bigger conferences, because now we know that we’re up to the level that we always hoped we would be,” Croke said. “This kind of assured us that we […] are definitely at the level where we can start expanding and all the delegates that we look up to and all the schools that we look up to as the best schools […] we can consider ourselves one of them.”