On a winter afternoon in February, 2000 delegates representing countries from around the world gathered at the Hilton Inner Harbor in Baltimore Maryland, to tackle some of the toughest issues facing global society. For four days, the delegates worked tirelessly to address issues such as the battle against terrorism, the Syrian refugee crisis and the threat of an asteroid's collision with Earth. Although this delegation resembles the one which gathers in the United Nations General Assembly Hall in New York City, there is a striking difference with this group. They are many years younger. The 2000 delegates all still in high school-have gathered for the Johns Hopkins University Model UN Conference (JHUMUNC).
JHUMUNC was one of 8 Model UN conferences the UNIS delegation would attend this year, and the 15 students who made the trip to Baltimore represented Norway, Uzbekistan, Liechtenstein, and Bulgaria. "Given that JHUMUNC is one of the most prestigious conferences in the country, it was more than just a four-day experience for me," said junior Siena D, vice president of UNIS Model UN "It involved months of preparation, both in terms of logistics and committee research. Although only representing the small country of Liechtenstein, Siena lead a delegation of about twenty countries in writing a resolution that addressed how workers' rights should be defined, implemented, and monitored for future Olympic games. She also encouraged other members of her committee to speak during caucus, reflecting, "I always love watching delegates in my bloc gain confidence in themselves and deliver moving speeches." Siena's hard work during the conference and the months of planning were rewarded during the closing ceremony, where she was awarded Outstanding Delegate.
Not all of the discussion held in these committees was as earnest as workers' rights. "My favorite moment of discussion was when one delegate claimed to have the cure for HIV/AIDS," said junior Defne L. who served on the Commission on the Status of Women. Despite the more inventive claims of some delegates on this committee, Defne was still able to put forward some practical solutions to a very serious global problem: "I recommended creating an assessment agency to suggest the most suitable approach in finding a cure for HIV and AIDS while keeping in mind cultural and religious norms as well as economic situations."
Discussing real world problems like workers rights and debating the best way to fight HIV/AIDS with people from all over the world was clearly an area where UNIS delegates shined. In total, they took home five awards-- no small task considering they were selected out of 2000 attendees. However,winning awards is not what this experience is about, says Siena: it's about being challenged. Although a lot of work goes into preparation and the conference can be tiring, it's an experience that "really brings out unique qualities in each delegate and helps them be the best they can be."
For more information about UNIS Model UN, watch the video below.