Ward Melville Model UN Caucuses in Washington


Corey Emery, Features Editor

Over four days from Thursday, March 20th to Sunday, March 23rd, the Ward Melville Model UN team travlled to Washington D.C. to participate in the sixteenth installment of Washington Area Model United Nations Conference, more affectionately known as WAMUNC. The team consists of delegates from the school club who were selected to attend on the basis of their dedication, the level of research demonstrated in position papers, and their participation in and contributions to club discussions. Fourteen members of the club, along with the six members of the secretariat and the club’s advisor, Mr. Conklin, were selected to take part in the club’s annual event.

WAMUNC is hosted by the students of George Washington University, who make up both the conference’s secretariat and committee chairs and vice-chairs, and the conference is held at the Renaissance Hotel in the heart of Washington D.C. Over the conference’s four days, delegates meet and debated their topics over a total of six sessions, each of which is approximately 3 to 3 1/2 hours long, for a total of 19 hours of debate. Ward Melville students represented a multitude of countries and regional governments on nine different committees.

“There is such a diversity of committees and discussion topics that I would’ve loved to have participated in alongside with my own committee,” stated senior delegate Alec Shangold. The committee types range from conventional UN styled committees like UNESCO to a minute-to-minute crisis simulation, in which delegates have to use a high level of reasoning and critical thinking skills in order to come to a resolution to solve a problem while it is in progress and as details are continuously added.

Regardless of the topic, Model UN committee meetings focus primarily on the two major forms of debate: the moderated caucus and the un-moderated caucus. During the moderated caucus, which is a formal debate of the critical points of the topic at hand, countries make arguments regarding their views, begin to formulate their ideas for a final resolution, and are allowed to pass notes to other delegates to begin a working relationship and collaboration. In the un-moderated caucus, the committee moves to informal debate and delegates are allowed to work freely with other countries to begin to formulate working papers, which are the bases for final resolutions. The caucuses continue throughout the committee, and finally lead to the proposal of resolutions and the vote on whether or not to adopt them.

Model UN places an emphasis on the development of research skills, public speaking skills, and cooperation among different countries while working towards writing a resolution, as well as allows the delegates to gain a greater working knowledge of the country they are representing in the committees. WAMUNC embodies these concepts and gives the delegates a truly realistic experience that incorporates high-level debates, and well-structured committees and procedures. The conference experience in particular is meant to promote diplomacy and international affairs, while also creating close friends along the way.

Kaylie Gazura, a senior delegate, said that, “I was intellectually stimulated and very busy, but I was able to make close bonds with strangers in just a few short days.”

Brianna Cea, a junior delegate, went further in saying that, “It was intense yet fun and both physically and mentally stimulating.”

This year marked Ward Melville Model UN’s first trip to WAMUNC after choosing to participate in this conference over its traditional choice of the National High School Model United Nations Conference (NHSMUN) in New York City at the beginning of March. As Mr. Conklin, the club’s advisor, explained, “Due to renovations at the UN and the sparse communication in the itinerary from NHSMUN, we decided to shift gears and look for another conference. This turned out to be a great club decision as the WAMUN Conference was awesome! And the fact that it was in Washington, DC made it all the more enjoyable.” Overall, the response to this change has been extremely positive, as every delegate in attendance expressed their overwhelming approval of the conference, the level of debate they experienced, and the thrill of going to a new conference–for many, their first conference as members of Model UN. Among the senior delegates of the club, the conference represents a bittersweet moment, as this will be their last official conference as members of the Ward Melville Model UN club. Senior delegate Abby Feinberg effectively represented the senior consensus when she said, “WAMUNC was an amazing experience and my only regret is that I can’t go back next year.”

While every member of the club is sad to see the club’s seniors leave, they are excited to see them move on to college and to continue in Model UN and bring the Ward Melville Model UN tradition throughout the country to various colleges and universities. And as these members turn to alumni, the club is also excited to usher in a new generation of sophomores from the graduating classes of Gelinas and Murphy.

When the delegates were asked, “Why would you recommend Model UN to new students?” Caroline McBrien, the club’s Co-President, responded by saying, “Model UN is really an amazing experience because of the way the conference brings together people from different schools—complete strangers—and then forces these people to collaborate and work closely with each other. This is truly what makes Model UN so special for me. I can’t think of any other event that fosters such close bonds between people so quickly.”

Danielle Hope Diamond, the club’s Co-President, responded by stating, “This was my third and last conference, and I can honestly say that it was the most memorable one. If there is one thing I love about Model UN, it is what it teaches students about working together. Our society has bred an unhealthily competitive environment, which is unfortunate, because life is not a competition. Model UN is a perfect example of students working together to help solve the world’s most critical issues.”

David Peterman, a junior delegate, replied with, “Being this is my first year doing Model UN, I didn’t exactly know what to expect coming into the first committee session. Ten minutes prior to it I felt anxious and unsure of what was to come. At that point, I had no idea these people would soon become friendly to me.” He later stated that, “Observing my fellow delegates speak allowed me to see why I truly love Model UN. It’s a place to think freely in a structured environment with a relaxing and fun undertone. It’s a place to make new friends, think actively, shape your views, and promote what you stand for.”

All of these statements show what Model truly stands for. It is a club that is meant to bring numerous different groups of delegates and students together, whether they be from different countries or different groups of friends. It is meant to facilitate close bonds between people on the basis of a common interest in international diplomacy. Most importantly, it is meant to create a greater understanding of foreign views, beliefs, and ideals, all in a friendly, debate-oriented atmosphere to which students can easily adjust.

Although the Ward Melville delegates did not win any awards at WAMUNC, they did come back with a greater spirit of debate, teamwork, and the understanding that the true takeaway from the conference, and the club, is that cooperation and collaboration is the true pathway to success and agreements, both at the international level and in everyday life. As Emma Bliska, the club’s Vice President, remarked, “WAMUNC reminded me again why I love Model UN.” It is obvious from each of the delegate’s attitudes that the research and effort that they put in for every topic is well worth the experience of the WAMUNC Conference and Model UN moreover.

For more information about Ward Melville’s Model UN club, or if you have any questions about the club or what is involved with it, check out the club’s website at: