After a season filled with silver plates and gavels, the Model United Nations (Model UN) team prepared to take on their last conference of the year, the National High School Model United Nations (NHSMUN) competition. Ready to conquer the big apple, 31 students travelled to midtown New York City March 6-9, each with the goal of speaking at the UN Headquarters.
The Model UN team went into NHSMUN with several titles under the roster’s belt. With a best large delegation award from WMHSMUN, two dozen individual awards from NAIMUN, a best small delegation award from VUMUN and several other awards from ILMUNC, they were looking to close the 2018-2019 season just as strong as they had started it. Unlike other competitions, NHSMUN does not give out best, outstanding or honorable delegate awards, or even verbal commendations. Instead, delegates work to be the best in their room and speak at the UN headquarters in front of the entire convention. Additionally, well-performing delegates in smaller committees can win awards of distinction, excellence or merit.
This year, Heritage had seven delegates speak. Seniors Kenzo Kimura and Daniela Velez earned a speaking spot with their committee actions on the topic of the World Health Organization’s stance towards mental health and physical disability awareness in the world.
“Although we’re always confident going into any conference, our attitude towards NHSMUN is unique in a sense that there are no various awards,” Kimura said. “With that in mind, our perception of this conference tends to be a bit more nervous because it gives us the ‘go big or go home’ attitude throughout the trip.”
As for the conference itself, NHSMUN hosts student delegates from all over the world. Participants from countries ranging from Uganda to Italy to Guatemala were each in General Assembly committee, which held about 80 to 120 delegates per room, or a crisis committee, which had less than 20 per room. With dozens of rooms to choose from, there were over 3,000 delegates present at all five committee sessions.
“My first Model UN conference in my sophomore year, I started out stuttering through my speeches and panicking at the sight of the entire room staring at me, and to know that I came all the way from that to speaking at the UN is an incredibly satisfying feeling,” Velez said. “Looking out at the sea of people in the audience, knowing that I was speaking at the same place that people like Malala Yousafzai and Barack Obama had spoken at, was something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
For the graduating Model UN seniors, NHSMUN served as their goodbye to the club. Many seniors, including Kimura and Velez, expressed their feelings of debt towards MUN after the announcing of the final results, during which seniors had the opportunity to give farewell speeches to the rest of the group.
“When I first started Model UN, I originally thought that only a small portion of outgoing students had the ability to succeed in the event. However, as the years went on I realized that with enough determination and team spirit anyone can be an amazing delegate,” Kimura said. “As I learned that Model UN was more than just a club filled with awards, my appreciation of the club is what drove me to become both a better delegate as well as a better person.”
Senior Mikhal Ben-Joseph, one of the Model UN co-presidents, recalls the emotions of the hours-long speeches the lineup of seniors delivered.
“It was really emotional, and a lot of the words that were said were truly special,” Ben-Joseph said. “[MUN] is a work in progress. Everytime you step into committee, you learn a little bit more about yourself and the world, and when you’re on the trips you get to connect with people in a way I really think is special.”
Ending the season with one more plaque to add to this year’s collection, the 2018-2019 Model United Nations season draws to a close, with the delegation earning an overall award of excellence.
Award of Excellence: Alex Yang
Award of Merit: Jackson Arnberg and Justin Folks
Photos courtesy of Kenzo Kimura