“These middle school delegates aren’t here because they want to boost their college resumes — they’re here because they actually care about current events and debate.
That passion is really incredible and makes everything worthwhile.”
Erik Leiden, Secretary General of GCIMSMUN
On March 26-28, over 1600 middle school students from thirteen states and eleven countries participated in the Global Classrooms International Middle School Model United Nations Conference (GCIMSMUN), a conference hosted by UNA-USA at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City.
From the first committee session on Friday morning to the last on Saturday afternoon, an impressive group of delegates debated passionately, creatively, and diplomatically. Overall, the conference was a success, and distinguished itself not only through the commitment of its delegates, but through the hard work of its secretariat, who created a one-of-a-kind UN experience.
GCIMSMUN’s opening ceremonies took place Thursday afternoon inside the United Nations Headquarters itself. Speakers Chris Whatley (Executive Director of the UNA-USA) Ahmad Alhendawi (United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth) and Penny Abeywardena (New York City’s Commissioner for International Affairs) urged delegates to take action, reminding them that they were possibly the last generation who could prevent global warming and hopefully the first who could eliminate extreme poverty. Musician Jena Rose Raphael further inspired delegates with an original song celebrating one world, and when Secretary General Erik Leiden officially opened the conference, the UN buzzed with notable excitement and energy.
Friday began with training sessions. Delegates chose fruits and vegetables at random, and then debated over which ingredients would make the best salad. Each committee then passed a resolution to make a certain salad, and by then the delegates had not only warmed up to the rules of procedure, but to each other, as well.
After lunch, speakers from the United Nations visited nine out of the twelve committees and spoke to delegates about the topic at hand. These UN leaders provided unique, valuable insight into the issues facing the delegates.
Saturday saw both the final committee sessions and the closing ceremonies. Delegates spent the day passing and failing working papers. For those in GA and UNDP, up to fifteen separate documents had to be merged or put to the vote.
Closing ceremonies was full of energy and excitement, with some delegates sat with their committee and others sat with their schools. With every award, two-thousand people raised their hands and voices to celebrate the honorable, outstanding, and best delegates
Dais members praised their delegates for showing sophistication, creativity, and diplomacy above a middle school level. Their deep knowledge consistently impressed and inspired. A member of the General Assembly dais was particularly struck by the adroitness with which his delegates turned their knowledge into resolutions and speeches:
“My delegates are diplomatic and are coming up with sophisticated working papers of a caliber far higher than what I expected from a middle school conference. One delegate stood up and said that a human being died every four seconds from hunger, and so 11,000 people had died since debate started. It was a chilling statistic, but it showcased the deep knowledge of our delegate body.”
The UNDP dais expressed similar sentiments, and succinctly summarized one of GCIMSMUN biggest strengths: diversity. One dais member noted:
“Different cultures create different viewpoints. Language barriers can sometimes cause a few bumps, but different languages are an integral part of the UN experience. GCIMSMUN has so many kids from so many different parts of the world that, simply by attending, our delegates become better global citizens.”
For the most part, faculty advisors were pleased with GCIMSMUN. The logistics were smooth and painless and their students bonded over the course of the conference. However, several faculty advisors lamented the lack of a social event in which delegates could mingle informally. Secretariat leaders said that a problem with hotel scheduling had forced the cancellation of the traditional Friday night social and that they hoped to restore it next year.
Delegates seemed most excited about three things: the friendliness of the dais staff, the diversity of the delegate body, and the opening ceremonies in the UN. Delegates from several committees remarked that, even though some of their peers made mistakes, the dais always helped correct and guide delegates with smiles and patience. Almost all delegates interviewed said they would never forget the friends they had made, and that being inside the UN General Assembly Hall was an inspiring experience.
In addition, Global Classrooms International Model UN Conference was furthermore highlighted by Humans of New York (HONY) in their post last week. The post featured two delegates representing Russia who spoke about their time at MSMUN. It just goes to show the widespread outreach and effect that Model UN has on everyone.
GCIMSMUN 2015 was an unforgettable UN experience. Congratulations secretariat, advisors, and delegates alike. Furthermore, a special congratulations to MS54 for being awarded The Secretary General’s Award for their outstanding performance at this year’s conference.
Delegate Remarks about GCIMSMUN
Delegates from each of the twelve committees answered two questions:
- What was one funny, surprising, or notable thing that happened in your committee?
- What will you remember about GCIMSMUN?
“In one unmoderated caucus there were four mergers and our committee turned into one colossal powerhouse. It was crazy!
This conference was our first, and we will never forget how challenging it was. The dais helped, though, so we ended up alright.”
– Raymond Goss and Jerry Liu, East-West School of International Studies
“There have been lots of feuds where people try to take each other down. Most people are trying to be diplomatic but the feuds are still really interesting to watch.
We will never forget the people we met here. GCIMSMUN was a great global experience and hopefully we will keep in touch with some of our new friends. We also really like the UN!”
– Samantha Kane and Mia Gregoire, Saint Rose
“A bunch of African countries have been really hardcore. I don’t agree with their viewpoint but they’re getting the rest of the committee on board.
This conference, unlike a lot of conferences I’ve attended, has been really well run! Everything starts and ends on time.”
– Patrick Henderson, Westfield Academy
“The friendliness of the dais has definitely stood out. A lot of people have made mistakes but instead of being rude or strict the dais helps correct the delegate.
We will always remember laughing hysterically when Chad stood up at the beginning of an unmod and shouted at the top of his lungs: “Drones are optional!” The whole room just stopped and stared at him and it was hilarious.”
– Iris Ho and Desiree Wang, Lawrence Gifted Magnet
– Laura Autierrez and Maria Boves, Shelton Academy
“Dais Talks. Definitely Dais Talks. The Dais lets us ask them questions about whatever we want for five or ten minutes and it’s a great way to take a break without losing too much focus. We’ve never done them before, but the Dais Talks were cool.
We will never forget all the friends we made here, and hearing tons of different viewpoints from people from different parts of the world. We’ve definitely enjoyed this conference more than others.”
– Breanna Nachazel and Luke Van Dresser, Holcomb Bridge Middle School
“Our chair interacted with the committee in what, for me, was an entirely new way. Our topic was the situation in Syria, and our chair took on the role of the Syrian Government. He responded to our debates and resolutions and it was actually kind of cool.
I will never forget being in the UN. Being there was an incredible experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
– Claire Carney, Locust Valley Middle School
“Everyone jumped on education. I was surprised by how focused everyone became. We were like a laser, honed in on not only the issue, but also the particular avenue through which we wanted to find a solution.
I will always remember the people I met here. GCIMSMUN might be held in one city but it really is a global experience.”
– Pierce Haley, The Park School
UN Children’s Fund:
“The Dais was very helpful with parliamentary procedure, much more so than the ones I’ve seen at home in Turkey. They were all very friendly, and did not reprimand any delegates for messing up the rules.
I will never forget the Canadian guys in my committee. They were very funny!”
– Can Cönger, The Kog School
“There were so many students from around the world. Talking to all of them and learning about their homes and families was an amazing experience.
One thing I will remember about GCIMSMUN is being in the UN. It was incredible and inspiring.”
– Juan Ramón Moreno Betancourt, Colegio Americano de Puebla
“I liked how much we could accomplish in unmoderated caucuses. Our chair was open to long unmods and that really helped us.
The opening ceremonies. No way could I forget being in the UN.”
– Niall Ryan, Albert Leonard Middle School
“A speaker from the UN came to our committee and spoke about the actual issue we were debating. We’ve never seen that before and it was really cool!
We will remember the people we met here. Hopefully we’ll keep in touch because we might see them again next year!”
– Lauren Bracken, Jane McAleese, Makayla Platt, Savannah Sanford, and Celina Dubay, The Baldwin School
“The chairs rearranged the seating. The first day we sat in alphabetical order, so the countries farther down the alphabet had to sit in the back. On the second day, though, we sat in reverse order, with Zimbabwe in the front of the room and Angola in the back. Everyone had a chance to be in the front or middle.
The people of course. Everyone was helpful and welcoming. People approached me and asked me to work with them and be an ally, and I felt as though our committee wanted to work together rather than fight amongst itself.”
– Kaj van Shic, International School of London
This conference recap was provided by Carter Wilcox, Milton Academy. In addition, thank you to Dennis Penu for guidance in writing the article.