Ward Melville Model UN Excels at NHSMUN

Corey Emery, Managing Editor

From Wednesday, March 2nd to Saturday, March 5th, twenty-five members of the Ward Melville Model United Nations team traveled to New York City to take part in the 42nd installment of NHSMUN, the National High School Model UN Conference. Participating in committees ranging in size from over of four hundred delegates to only seventeen, our delegates debated topics ranging from poverty eradication in India to the environmental effects of trade liberalization around the globe, and from access to renewable energy technology in developing countries to global media censorship. In this manner they developed and practiced the communication and negotiation skills  essential in today’s international political landscape.

Over the course of the conference’s five committee sessions—in total over seventeen hours of substantive topic debate—the Ward Melville delegates represented the interests and policies of the Republic of Chile. Junior (and first-time NHSMUN delegate) Chase Small said, “I was unsure of what to expect for my first MUN conference. There were a lot more students than I expected, but I enjoyed how energized everyone was about making a difference and discussing these pressing issues.”

This year sophomore delegates Justin Diamond and Anthony Alaimo were voted best delegates by their committee, and spoke during the conference’s closing ceremony from the podium in the UN General Assembly. In conjunction, they delivered a speech detailing the resolution passed by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. As expressed by Diamond, “I think that while being chosen as best delegate was awesome, it wasn’t our goal. When we were in debate, we were just trying to pass our resolutions and have fun doing it. Talking in front of the UN was the biggest honor of my entire life. So many great people have spoken there, and being able to do so just fills you with awe.”

In preparation for their committee sessions, members researched the viewpoint of the South American nation of Chile extensively over the course of the months leading up to NHSMUN. Although they were unable to meet with the UN Chilean ambassador, the delegation did meet with the Slovakian ambassador, which still proved very enlightening and informative. As stated by senior Anuja Joshi: “There are so many countries around the world that are so much more advanced than you think they are, mostly because you fail to think about those other countries a lot of the time.”

Accompanying the delegates on the trip were Ms. Kristin Stelfox, who has been with the club for two years, and Mr. Andrew Pelosi, who is serving his first year as the club’s weekly advisor. Reflecting on his first experiences with Model UN, Mr. Pelosi said that, “I didn’t really know what to expect when I started, but the officers were so well versed in the ins and outs of the club and they were always willing to help me answer any questions I had. It is such a student-based club, and I was astonished as to how much the officers take on to make the club the success it is. The club has such a rich tradition and I am proud to continue that tradition for years to come.”

In addition to committee debate, delegates had the opportunity to hear from US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power at the conference’s opening ceremony speak about her work in diplomacy on a day-to-day basis. Junior Natalie O’Dell expressed that, “It was really inspirational to hear Ambassador Power speak. I feel very strongly about every point she addressed, like the Syrian refugee crisis, and she urged us to take action and get involved. Personally that’s something I really think is a pressing issue in our society today and I’m happy that she thought it was important enough to make one of her main speaking points.”

For the club’s seniors, NHSMUN marks a bittersweet moment as the final conference they will attend as high school students. In summarizing her experience, senior and co-President Hanna Bliska said, “This year, I was impressed and humbled by how tight knit and wonderful the delegates are with one another. I know it sounds cliché, but we really are a family. The conference surpassed my expectations once again because of the thought-provoking debate we participate in and the ideologies brought by delegates representing countries from all over the world. I will miss my time spent at NHSMUN and I am so thankful for the experience it has given me.”