From November 20-23, the Model United Nations (MUN) Club embarked on a new adventure to Princeton University for their first Model UN Conference of the school year. In the past, the November Model United Nations trip has been to Brown University. However, due to a switch of the advisor this year from math teacher Nicole Simmons, currently on yearlong maternity leave, to history teacher Courtney Clarke, the Brown deadline was missed.
“Preparation for this trip was substantially different from other trips,” said senior and Co-President of the Model United Nations Club Stanley Vuong.
He explained that this was mainly because “Mrs. Simmons usually handled all the details.” In Ms. Simmons’ absence, however, Stanley explained that the board members “had to handle things like booking the hotel and bus.”
Unlike most MUN conferences, Princeton was double delegated; meaning two people from the same school were assigned to one country. This led the committees to be twice as large as they normally would have been and some of the General Assemblies (GAs) consisted of almost 200 people. This, along with competition from top-ranked high schools such as Horace Mann and Dalton Academy, further contributed to the challenges faced by Blind Brook at this conference.
Since the club did not know what to expect going into the conference, preparation beforehand was especially important, including the drafting and submission of position papers. These generally consist of the stances of countries or significant persons on the topics distributed and how the delegate plans on addressing or solving the problem.
Blind Brook was given the countries of Turkey and Nicaragua to distribute among its members. Most were assigned to General Assembly committees (GA), such as the Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC), World Health Organization (WHO) and Human Rights Council (HRC), but a few were assigned to specialized committees, usually consisting off less people and more intimate debate sessions, such as the Paris Peace Conference and the Israel-Fatah-Hamas Committees.
The actual conference took place in a hotel outside of Princeton but due to the mass amounts of people at the conference, Blind Brook, along with a few other schools, was assigned to a hotel about five to ten minutes away from where the conference took place. Transportation issues arose as a result. Shuttles were available to transport the students to and from one hotel to the main hotel for the conference, but these shuttles only ran at a few intervals during the day, such as 6:45 A.M. or 12:30 A.M. There were often long waiting periods to actually get on to a shuttle; twice, the students had to take the 6:45 A.M. shuttle and bring a bag along with them with anything they may need throughout the day, as they did not return to the hotel until around 11:30 P.M.
In addition, as part of the scheduling issues, Blind Brook was not able to go on the tour of Princeton University, an expected highlight of the experience, because of the lengthy amount of traveling and especially early shuttle.
“The people running the conference had some major transportation and scheduling errors that led to a lot of wasted time, but in the end everyone ended up getting through it. This conference was way more competitive than most of the ones we go to, but we still did our best to have fun and got away with a few awards so it all turned out okay in the end,” said Vuong.
Despite the competition, Blind Brook came away from the conference with a verbal commendation, won by Junior Sam Zarkower and Brandon Wilson on the Special Political and Decolonization (SPECPOL) Committee as Turkey, and an Honorable Mention, won by Senior Jack Broitman on the Organization of American States (OAS) Committee as Nicaragua.
“It was a great opportunity for our club to experience something new. I think the competition was fierce and although we didn’t win as many awards as we would have liked to, our club can only improve from here on out,” said senior and Co-President Alex Egol.
“I was really excited to go and had a great time. I was very impressed by the devotion of all the students and all the hard work they put into the conference, both from Blind Brook and from other schools, and I look forward to the next trip,” said Advisor Courtney Clarke.