by Addy Toll '24
For high school students interested in politics, current events, or international relations, pretending to be a world leader solving the world’s most important problems in 48 hours or less is pretty hard to beat, which explains the popularity of Model United Nations (MUN) extracurricular activities in high schools across the country, including Heritage Hall.
At Heritage Hall, MUN club members meet regularly to prepare for conferences simulating the UN General Assembly and its other multilateral bodies. While role-playing as delegates of their assigned countries, students discuss and draw up resolutions for the world's most pressing current issues, from nuclear weapons to women's rights. The conferences push students to step out of their comfort zone and think outside the box as they are no longer concerned with their own opinion; but rather the perspective of the nation they represent.
This year, Heritage Hall’s MUN delegation participated in two conferences. The first took us to Boston, Mass., for the 70th Annual Harvard Model UN, where we represented the coastal, central African country Gabon in committees discussing tariffs, shark finning, renewable resources, cyber security, women's rights, and eight other topics.
The conference expanded our knowledge of the parliamentary procedure, public speeches, diplomatic alliances, resolution draft writing, and amendments, all while exploring a historic city and networking with students from around the world.
Following a short break, the team was up and running again in preparation for our second conference, a mini-conference held in the Upper School to practice lessons learned from Harvard and introduce new members to MUN rules and procedures. The conference featured 14 students representing nine countries.
After discussing resolutions on global access to clean water, delegates ultimately reached a consensus to support the resolution detailing the so-called S.T.A.R plan, a program to quickly help populations whose lives are at risk because of limited access to clean water. The S.T. A. R. plan suggests the best aid is interbasin water transport; however, the opposing resolution, the so-called D.I.R.E plan, pushed for more research to find ways to limit the environmental consequences this method of water transportation has historically yielded.
In response to a last-minute swing vote made by Honduras that changed the trajectory of the resolution, amendment, and decision, sophomore Vivian Xu remarked, “Anyone can change their decision last minute, don’t trust anyone!”
Reflecting on what they had learned during the conference, junior Roger Smith stated, “I learned a lot about basic parliamentary procedure and how complex the relationships between countries can get in just three hours, while sophomore Gideon Williams noted, “The procedures that make Model UN function and how to write a Position Paper.”
If it wasn't exciting enough that these students came up with a simulated solution to the international water crisis in three hours, five delegates were recognized by the 2022-23 Heritage Hall MUN presidents for their outstanding work during and in preparation for the conference.
The Josh Donovan ’23 “Memorial” Award (Outstanding Delegate): Russia (juniors Cole Spence and Roger Smith)
Larsen Van Horn Award ’23 (Outstanding Position Paper): United Kingdom (junior Addy Toll); honorable mention: Mozambique (first-time conference attendees sophomores Maddi Nowell and Vivan Xu)
With the club already gearing up for the Harvard Model UN Conference in January 2024, the future is bright for these students as they continue to practice learning, leading, and serving while discussing real-world crises with students from across the nation and the globe.