MUNUC 2017

J. Anthony '18

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What happens when you add politically involved students to the historic city of Chicago?  MUNUC 2017.

 

Last month, over 2,600 students braved the chilly winter weather and traveled to Chicago for the annual MUNUC Model UN conference.  For Nardin students, however, our MUNUC story started at 4:30 AM at the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport.  With both bags in their hands and under their eyes, twenty-six delegates boarded onto the plane and flew off to one of the most historic cities in the world: Chicago.  I was lucky enough to be one of them.

Before we get into their story, first let’s talk about what MUNUC is.  Model United Nations of the University of Chicago (or MUNUC for short) is a four day long conference where high school delegates assume the roles of UN ambassadors and diplomats, partaking in stimulating debate, discussion, and problem solving of real world issues.  MUNUC involves intense research and full day conferences in which the delegates will write working papers to try and fix particular issues.

Okay, now back to the tale of our very own Nardo’s!  After finally landing in the Chicago Airport, we boarded Chicago’s subway “The L”.  Let me tell you: nothing beats watching the sun rise while cruising into the impressive Chicago skyline, ready to begin the adventure of a lifetime!  Once we finally arrived, we dropped our luggage off at the historic Palmer House Hotel and departed to explore all that this great city has to offer.  Our first stop?  The Bean!!  Once many photos were taken in front of The Bean and all of its metallic glory, the Nardo’s were off to The Art Institute of Chicago.  The Art Institute was amazing, showing off its impressive collections of Monet’s and modern, American art work.  Once we finished enriching ourselves in centuries of beautiful art, we headed to experience a different, more livable, art; you guessed it, the art of shopping!!!  Not only did we get to experience all the shopping Chicago had to offer, we embraced it.  After an extremely long day, Nardin headed back to the hotel to get started on what they really came here to do: debating, discussing, and problem solving.

I was lucky enough to be assigned to a specialized committee, The World Cities Summit.  This committee, or WCS, is dedicated to solving problems ranging from urban agriculture to sustainable living.  Considering I basically knew nothing about urban planning before starting my research, I knew I would have my work cut out for me.  Oh yeah, did I mention I was a single delegate assigned to the city Moscow, one of the world’s largest Megacities?  Yup, I would most definitely have my work cut out for me.  Even after hours upon hours of research, I was still feeling pretty nervous.  These nerves continued to pester me throughput opening ceremonies, which by the way, was amazing!  An impressive female political speaker ringed open the conference with her speech rooted in especially one theme: no matter who you are, no matter what your background, make a change.  It was even more amazing to witness students my age march up to the front of the large conference room and ask her questions even top ranked politicians would be too scared to ask.  With all ceremonial speeches ending and wishes of “good luck” exchanged, I headed to my conference room in a state of panic.  “What if I didn’t do enough research”, “What if people in my committee lash out at me”, “What if I say something that’s wrong?”  Long story short, I was petrified.

All of these fears were soon all put to a halting stop as I approached my conference room.  I took a deep breath, said a silent hail mary, and walked in.  As having been to MUNUC before I was ready for what awaited me and what to do.  As I walked in, I glanced at what would basically be my home-base for the next couple days.  Before committee officially starts at MUNUC, delegates will often introduce themselves to one another and discuss what topic they want to discuss.  This is basically an unwritten ritual of establishing yourself as a major delegate.  Not going to lie, it was a little unnerving talking to some of these delegates, but after about two introductions, I was prepared, initiating conversations with my fellow delegates, and establishing myself as a delegate who was seriously there to make a change.  With the bang of a gavel and role call underway, the committee session had officially begun.  With my turn to speak approaching quickly, I knew I had to make a bold introductory statement.  I nervously made my way to the front of the committee, looked up, and realized all eyes were on me.  In my loudest, most “Model UN” voice, I made my first statement, establishing Moscow’s views on our chosen topic and what my goals were for the conference.  As I ‘yield my time to the chair’, I sat back down and let out a sigh of relief.  It was awesome to get notes from my fellow delegates saying they loved what I said and wanted to work with me. With just one committee session underway, I had already established my block and was working on a working paper.  It was awesome to be able to voice my ideas effectively and contribute my ideas into the working paper.  There were some struggles in fighting to make sure my ideas were included in my block’s working paper.  After writing a whole section about transportation, I had realized that some of my ideas were not expressed to my liking.  I fought vigorously to get my ideas about transportation and toll booths into the working paper, and with much hard work they were.

The main goal in MUN is to get your working paper passed.  The working paper you and your block work on is a direct reflection of your country’s ideas and can ultimately make or break your committee experience.  As Moscow, I had to get up and boldly state that I did not believe that green, environmentally friendly urban planning initiatives were of the utmost importance.  Although I had to go against my own personal beliefs, I had to uphold the integrity of my city and represent it in the most accurate way possible.  That is a huge part of MUN.  If you don’t represent your country accurately, you are not doing your job.  This can be hard, for I had to stand up in front of my fellow delegates and fight vigorously for something that I personally did not believe in.  I had to pick apart the competing working papers, questioning everything.  At some points, it was hard to find anything wrong with these working papers, for they were intelligent and clearly thought out.  I persevered and questioned everything, eventually having to go up and present my own working paper.  This was scary because people were doing the same thing that I was doing, questioning every single meticulous detail.  At the end of the day, my working paper was the one that got passed!  It was amazing to know that something I contributed to and supported from the beginning was receiving the recognition it deserved.

Overall, I walked out of my last committee session with a newfound sense of confidence and with memories I would never forget.  The beauty of MUNUC is that it is an international conference.  As Nardin MUNUC delegate Lily Lamattina said, “Model UN really opens up your mind to the world around you.”  The people who you will meet during MUNUC will change your life.  They are all such motivated, successful, and accomplished students.  At the end of conference, the seniors had to go around and say what school they were applying to.  Every Single one of them said one of America’s top Universities or Colleges, with the majority of them even being Ivy Leagues.  It was an honor to work with such amazing and politically involved students, inspiring me to become even more politically involved as well.

My experience was just one of a thousand that happened at MUNUC.  Nardin seniors Jamie Tell and Valerie XU got to be the Russian delegates for the intense committee Security Council.  On on top of the rigor that is Security Council, they both got to experience a midnight crisis.  In a midnight crisis, delegates are woken up in the middle of the night and rushed to committee to deal with a crisis that is acted out before their eyes.  Commenting on the crisis and her MUNUC experience, Jamie stated that “So I obviously love MUNUC and Model Un since I’ve done the first conference sophomore year, but this year was by far my favorite because Valerie was my partner and because of the crisis.  I definitely think the smaller committee is the way to go because you get in a lot more debate and you can actually get really involved in writing the resolutions.  Also I really enjoyed the midnight crisis (surprising I know), because it mixed everything up and was completely different from what I usually do.  There was a totally different procedure and it was really interesting to learn the crisis process since it is used a lot in college Model Un and I plan to compete in college

Overall, MUNUC is an experience that I will always remember and the skills that I have gained from it I truly believe I will use for the rest of my life.  It is amazing to see such passion and political consciousness in students my age.  It is amazing to see thousands of students gather together to try and figure out problems that even world leaders don’t know how to tackle.  This provoked me to ask the question, “Why don’t politicians ever ask of the youth’s opinion on important events?”  With such passion and brilliance, maybe the answers to world problems don’t lie with adults, but with teens.  One thing is for certain, however.  After experiencing MUNUC, the current youth is definitely going to make an impact on the world.

 

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