Over 2,000 high school delegates attended this past weekend’s Johns Hopkins University Model United Nations Conference (JHUMUNC) in Baltimore, Maryland, from February 6-9, 2014.
This year marked an important milestone in the history of the conference, with the largest number of delegates ever in attendance. The conference moved to a new venue, the Hilton Baltimore. And this conference had more international attendance compared to prior years, including a large delegation from China.
Co-Secretaries-General Ian Hooley and Kithmina Hewage led a staff of over 100 Johns Hopkins undergraduates. JHUMUNC has a tradition having two Secretaries-General serving together, and throughout the conference I adored Ian’s and Kith’s budding bromance. In his closing ceremonies speech, Kith proudly told everyone he and Ian experienced the same dreams — and nightmares! — leading up to the conference.
After closing ceremonies, I asked Ian and Kith what they hoped delegates learned from the conference. Ian hoped the the conference facilitated cross-cultural dialogue. “We have such a great diversity of delegates,” said Ian, “not only in terms of geographical diversity — schools all over the US and all over the world — but also in terms of delegates’ backgrounds and their particular interests.” Ian explained that different types of students and schools attend the conference, from those interested in the sciences to those interested in the humanities, but “the great thing about JHUMUNC is that it brings them all together.”
Kith shared with me how he comes from Sri Lanka, where “Model UN is used as a tool of reconciliation.” Kith explained that “people from the northern province and the southern province get together at the Sri Lankan Model United Nations.”He hoped that this spirit of reconciliation was also found at JHUMUNC, and that “students took the opportunity to make long-lasting friendships.”
JHUMUNC ran 29 committees. Despite the increased size of the conference, the large GA committees that I observed seemed fairly manageable with around 120 delegates. Committees included a historical Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) set in 2002, which discussed the topic of terrorism in a post-9/11 world. Soccer fans were able to participate in a simulation of the FIFA Congress.
But my favorite committee was the historical Financial Crisis 2008 committee. Delegates role-played Wall Street CEOs (including Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein, JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon, and the man of honor, Lehman Brothers’ Dick Fuld), public servants (Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke), and even “doomsday economist” Nouriel Roubini.
The committee heatedly debated whether or not to bail out Lehman Brothers, and in a departure from history, delegates agreed to seek a bailout from Congress in order to avoid collapsing the global financial system — which sparked public outrage and hastened the protests of Occupy Wall Street.
After voting for the bailout, USG Crisis Robert Locke brought me in as a guest speaker and I shared my experience working at Goldman Sachs from 2008 to 2010. I had a lot of fun answering delegates’ questions, and I got a chance to grill them too about their decisions. Overall I was very impressed with delegates’ questions and their understanding of the financial crisis.
Delegation awards went to Bishop Ireton for Best Small Delegation and Stuyvsant High School for Best Large delegation.
Congratulations to all delegates, advisors, and staff on a great conference! And thank you to Ian and Kith for having me visit!