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Campus Hosts Model UN for Berkshire County Teens

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Thirty-eight local high school students participated in Bard College at Simon’s Rock’s first high school Model UN Conference. The student-organized conference drew teams from six Berkshire County schools. Students convened in the Fisher Science and Academic Center where the Simon’s Rock Model UN team led the attendees through simulations of United Nations proceedings.

Simon’s Rock Model UN members attend several conferences a year—the Five Colleges Conference, the University of Pennsylvania Conference, and the Harvard National Conference. At last year’s Harvard Conference, the Simon’s Rock team won “Best Delegate” for their work on UNIFEM, and an Honorable Mention for work in a committee examining the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. It’s this level of experience they wanted to offer high school participants.

Building democratic systemsThe Simon’s Rock Model UN team is passionate about encouraging other students to be active Model UN participants and active citizens. Throughout the year the team organized several fundraisers to help make the conference happen.

Eli Pariser ’00 opened the conference with a keynote address. Pariser, a Simon’s Rock board member and founder of MoveOn.org, spoke about his own time at Simon’s Rock and his history of political organizing. He delivered the message that the difficult work of building democratic systems starts with individuals who make the choice to engage with complex issues.

Before breaking into working sessions students learned several key concepts, including how to raise a motion and how to introduce a working paper or resolution. Once they had the basics down, the groups went off to work on a range of issues, from a United Nations Summit on Children to a meeting of the General Assembly’s Disarmament and International Security Committee.

Model UN Team inspires students to get involved

Hillary Saviello ’09, the Conference’s secretary general, spoke to the delegates of her passion for Model UN and how her interest in children’s rights introduced her to the organization. “The Model UN opened my eyes to a host of career possibilities,” Saviello explained. “It gave me the understanding that I didn’t have to wait to participate in processes that foster human rights and international security.”

Saviello urged participants, “What we do here shouldn’t end in committee. Take this knowledge beyond the simulation; take action for causes you care about.”

Faculty advisor Mariela Wong was pleased with the outcome: “This first year was quite a success, and I believe that Simon’s Rock Model UN will continue to engage local students with activities like the conference through the coming years.”

Attendees had similar reactions and expressed their interest in coming back next year. Several students spent time during their lunch break to learn more about the College and the Berkshire Regional Scholarship program.

Learn more about Simon’s Rock Model UN team at www.srcmunc.org.