Last weekend, Mira Costa High School hosted the 21st session of Los Angeles Invitational Model United Nations (LAIMUN). Over 730 novice and 470 advanced delegates from 25 high schools in Southern California gathered in Manhattan Beach, ready to discuss a variety of pressing global issues and threats to international security.
While the novice delegates had a one-day conference that ended on Saturday afternoon with the Novice Awards Ceremony, the advanced delegates continued their debate into Sunday, culminating their conference with a separate awards ceremony. LAIMUN’s novice committees provided beginning delegates an opportunity to develop their skills under professional chairs, while the advanced committees served as a forum for more competitive delegates.
LAIMUN XXI offered a total of 30 committees, 15 novice and 15 advanced, ranging from the traditional GA and ECOSOC committees that discussed issues such as terrorism in sub-Saharan Africa and child slave labor to specialized committees like the IAEA and the Security Council that discussed nuclear medical technology and the Russian-Ukraine conflict. Crisis-loving delegates found their niche in the Advanced Crisis committee, which delved into a lively simulation of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the situation in Syria.
LAIMUN XXI announced the following school awards:
Best Clubs: Chadwick HS and Peninsula HS
Best Schools: Cerritos HS and Huntington Beach HS
Best Delegate Interview With Olivia Everhard and Danielle Major,
Secretaries-General of LAIMUN XXI
Best Delegate: Could you tell us a little about the history of LAIMUN?
Olivia: This is the second year that we’ve expanded the committee to include both novice and advanced committees. All other years have been just novice, just Saturday. We decided to expand the conference to be two days with advanced committees because there had been a lot of people requesting it – “you have such a great novice conference, why don’t you expand it to include advanced committees?” We have a pretty huge program and we care a lot about Model UN, so we wanted to try it out. It worked out really well last year, so we’re going to continue on with it. Besides that, we only have been in the program since freshman year, so we don’t know too much about the history of the program, but I know that it has expanded significantly. Adding the advanced committees – that was the biggest change during our time. We’ve had to adjust to that because we have to make new committees and new policies for advanced committees. That’s a process, but after this year and the years that follow, we will have a set process and policy for all the advanced committees.
Best Delegate: Could you share a little bit of your own MUN story? What is the leadership structure at Mira Costa? Why did you want to become a Secretary-General?
Danielle: I took the intro class going into freshman year, so MUN was my first high school class, and it was definitely a big change from the classes I had taken in Middle School. We had a debate every week, and it was an opportunity to experience what a really conference was like. I tried out in spring and made it in. During sophomore year, I was a legal, then I did my first travel conference to Georgetown. Last year, I chaired at LAIMUN and traveled to Harvard and Berkeley. Here, advisors interview applicants for positions. Our advisors interviewed both of us.
Olivia: I took the intro class during first semester of my freshman year. During the week of a travel conference, someone dropped out and I was invited to attend ILMUNC. That was unheard of at the time, since I was only a freshman and only advanced members could go. This showed me that I am good at MUN, and made me want to be even better in the program. During sophomore year, I went to Georgetown and Berkeley and was a legal for LAIMUN. I was chosen to be Chief of Staff for LAIMUN my junior year, where my number one responsibility was putting on the LAIMUN tours for parents. We were the main ambassadors for the program; we went to middle schools and talked about Model UN. We were the recruiting network. During my senior year, there was an interview process, and I became the SG.
Best Delegate: How does the program balance competing in conferences and hosting LAIMUN?
Danielle: It depends on the year. Every other year, we go to PAMUN in Paris, which is during the same weekend as LAIMUN. A lot of juniors and seniors go to PAMUN, which takes away from people who could potentially be chairs. In those years, sophomores may step up to chair committees if they are competent and involved in the program. Most of our big travel conferences are usually in the spring, so there’s no legitimate conflict between competing and hosting.
Olivia: Also, our program has 160-170 kids, and when we travel, we bring less than 30. And it’s good to have our chairs balance their times between outside conferences and LAIMUN – they’ve known about LAIMUN since May, so there wasn’t much conflict of interest.
Best Delegate: Could you share any tips for others organizing their own conferences?
Olivia: Do Google docs tutorials and learn how to do spreadsheets!
Danielle: Spreadsheets are the most important. Also, I wasn’t aware of every single part of logistics that go into organizing a conference. There’s so much more than what you initially think and it’s very important to delegate responsibility. If it was just us two, we would not have had the time to organize this conference. Using our USGs as much as we can was very important so that we don’t micromanage.
Olivia: It’s a long and hard process. Stay organized, have hard deadlines; our advisors were hands-off completely on LAIMUN. You have to choose the right people and trust them.
Best Delegate: What would you say sets LAIMUN apart from other conferences?
Danielle: We are very focused on each individual committee and each chair. We understand that as the Secretariat, we are putting on this conference, but there is no point at which we feel that we are in charge of the entire conference. Once it comes down to the weekend, it’s up to the chairs, and it’s their responsibility. We tell them it’s their conference. We also put a big emphasis on fairness. We go to other conferences and see chairs who are biased against Mira Costa. We tell our chairs to not let rivalries get in the way but rather award the delegates who deserve the awards.
Olivia: Every year, we think of something unique to add to the conference. Last year, we started advanced committee blogs. We had it only for GAs, but we hope to expand it to every advanced committee. Chairs would post interesting articles for months leading up to the conference, and delegates would have the link to the articles. We love efficiency here, too. We don’t have an opening ceremony – we know that people care more about the actual conference than listening to our speeches.
Best Delegate: What is the chair training process like?
Olivia: There is a whole chair-training process that we go through. Chairs first write their topic synopses and get comments from their USGs. About a month and a half ago, we started chair training more specifically for each committee. Each USG met separately with each committee and talked to the chairs about their topics, quizzed them on current events, etc. Each committee was expected to send an email every Sunday with an interesting article to the USGs. During class, we do in-class debates, and each day, a different chair chaired the debate to make sure everyone was good on parliamentary procedure.
Danielle: We also conducted actual written tests, covering everything from parliamentary procedure, conference policy, and terms, from little things like when lunch is. Because when it really comes down to the day of the conference, it’s important that our chairs are on top of everything.
Best Delegate: Do you have any additional comments?
Olivia and Danielle: Special shoutout to the entire Secretariat – y’all are the homies! And shoutout to our advisors for letting LAIMUN be our conference and continue the legacy of MUN at Mira Costa!
Thanks Olivia and Danielle for a great interview and congratulations to all members of the Secretariat for another amazing session of LAIMUN!
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