Remote Learning Allows US Model UN to Expand Borders

Seven Upper School Model UN Club members joined 3,300 other high school students nation- and worldwide over the February 12–14 weekend to try their hands at solving some of the world’s pressing problems, as spotlighted in such committee meetings as Addressing COVID-19 Outbreaks in Emergency Settings; Women’s Economic Empowerment; and Internal Displacement, Climate Change, and Ethnic Tensions.

BB&N’s Model UN Club doesn’t normally send delegates to this conference, the North American Invitational Model United Nations (NAIMUN), hosted by Georgetown University and staffed by 250 of its undergraduates. But this year, “a silver lining of the pandemic has been our ability to remotely attend conferences in Washington, DC and Ontario, Canada,” says advisor to the Model UN Club Farah DiPasquale.

Using the Conference’s theme of Collaboration Beyond Borders as inspiration, delegates were asked to “think beyond borders, whether those borders be geographic, political, or ideological,” according to the NAIMUN LVIII website. As always, delegates advocate for the policies of the country or character they are representing, using diplomacy and dialogue to create inventive solutions.

“I like that through Model UN, I get to exercise not only my public speaking skills, but also my leadership and collaboration skills,” says Gerson Personnat ’21.

A participant since his freshman year, Gerson represented Cape Verde on the Fédération International de Football Association (FIFA) committee at this Conference. “In draft resolutions, we developed solutions to end corruption in FIFA, develop women’s soccer, and create more equity between the big soccer nations and the underrepresented ones,” Gerson explains.

Attending a Model UN conference for his first time, Ben Ma ’23 prepared by researching Cabo Verde, which he was representing, and effective ways to combat climate change. “I advocated for addressing the root causes of climate change and pushed for quick action,” Ben says, “knowing that as a small country surrounded by water, we would get destroyed if we didn’t stop climate change soon.”

As much as he learned about the issues at hand, Ben realized that the experience provides potential life-long benefits, as well. “The unmoderated meetings reminded me of my dad’s meetings that I’ve overheard,” he says. “Even when I’m old like him and I go to work, I’m hoping that my experience with Model UN can help me there. Leaders visibly emerged in just two days, so I guess figuring out how to do that myself was the most important thing I took from the Conference.”

DiPasquale credits BB&N’s attendance at NAIMUN this year to “the impressive dedication and engagement of the students in our Model UN Club,” she says. “Under the leadership of our highly capable and enthusiastic co-presidents, Abigail Rabieh ’21 and Oliver Shapiro ’21, they have made the best of the virtual landscape in both their weekly simulations on Zoom and their remote participation in conferences.”

Also participating in the highly regarded NAIMUN were Graham Bateman ’23, David Min ’22, Dhruv Padmanabhan ’22, Jayden Personnat ’21, and Leo Wang ’24.

While this Conference marked Gerson’s last in high school, he’s already got a plan for the future. “For now, I motion to continue Model UN in college.”