Model U.N.: Reaching for the Stars

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by Quille Chayes, ‘12

MUN-HS-Conf-web.jpgBard College at Simon’s Rock might just be a small liberal arts college, but our Model United Nations (MUN) club acts as an ambassador for our excellence worldwide. Our MUN club has been invited across oceans to participate in university conferences. Hillary Saviello (club president), Emily Baker, Elissa Furlong, and Moses Sukin all traveled to England for a weekend last November to participate in the Oxford International Model United Nations Conference. The world-class event attracted speakers including Sir Richard Dalton of the British Foreign Office and Dr. Erik Jensen of the United Nations. Simon’s Rock student Hilary Saviello participated in the Security Council debates, often considered the highest profile council at such an event.

Model UN is one of the largest clubs on campus, with over 50 members—impressive given not just our College’s small size, but also the club’s brand-new status: Saviello started it just two years ago. In addition to the perks of international travel, MUN offers members a chance to give back to the local community by hosting its own conference. Simon’s Rock began this tradition in 2011, and continued this year, hosting the Third Annual High School Conference, SRCMUNC 2013.

MUN-Harvard-National-Conf-web.jpgThirty-eight local high school students from Mount Everett Regional High and Berkshire School attended. The Simon’s Rock MUN Club put on four different committees, each with different powers and different pertinent world problems to address: the World Health Organization (WHO) with Pandemic Response, chaired by Travis King, WHO with Ring of Ashes, chaired by Danny Sawyer, Security Council, chaired by Hillary Saviello and Laura Boning-Zhu, and UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), chaired by Elissa Furlong and Thomas Schalke. MUN is very much a club about the future, training young minds to look to diplomatic solutions for real-time, real-world issues. By extending our conference to local high school students, the Simon’s Rock MUN club gives even younger students a taste of that future. (An article about our conference and its impact on local students was featured in the local paper, the Berkshire Eagle.)

SRCMUN recently attended another prestigious conference this year, the Harvard National Model United Nations. This 59th annual conference ran from Thursday, February 14th to Sunday, February 17th, and featured 27 councils on both modern-day issues and famous historical affairs addressed by the United Nations. The Simon’s Rock team meets most Sundays at 6:30 in the Lecture Center to research, practice, and prepare.

MUN-HS-Conf-web.jpgEmma Baker ‘09, a first-year participant, has no regrets about the time or energy she has committed to MUN: “Going to Oxford was amazing. I learned a lot, met so many amazing people from all over the world, and got to visit a fantastic place.” Indeed, students enjoy the experience of combining travel, global policy education, research, imagination, and the sense that they can make a difference. Conferences often involve thinking on one’s feet in “crisis committees”: in the last simulation of the World Health Organization students faced challenges including negotiating for the return of one of their fellow delegates, who’d been (supposedly) taken hostage, and, in the interest of verisimilitude, was literally, removed from the room.”

The Simon’s Rock MUN club is in step with the times. Members use Twitter to post various updates about events, Facebook to explain the history and purpose of the club, and produce a website dedicated to the annual conference hosted at Simon’s Rock. They are always looking for interested students, if not for conferences this year than for the impressive string of conferences already in the works for next year, hopefully including University of Pennsylvania, the Five Colleges, Columbia University, West Point Security Conference, and Harvard National again.