This reflection piece was provided by Tina Rawlins, the advisor at St. Andrew’s Priory School in Hawaii. I met Tina and co-advisor Sophie Halliday during Fall. They were brand new to Model UN but were determined to prepare their students for the National High School Model United Nations (NHSMUN) conference in New York. After the conference, I wanted to get some of their students’ reflections from the conference so we could share what the experience is like for a newer team going to such a large conference. Judging by the reflections below, it looks like the students had a very successful experience!
Here are the two reflections:
“Honestly, I can’t believe how much I enjoyed NHSMUN. Not only was New York an extremely satisfying experience, but also the actual conference has been more than I could have ever hoped. This year at the conference, I was prepared to mostly just observe and get familiar with the process, but I surprised myself by actually being a sponsor of a resolution! It was exciting to meet new people from all over the world, and collaborating with them on something that actually turned out to be really interesting! I wasn’t sure about taking the class next year at my school, but now I can’t wait until I can register for the class.
This trip has been one of the most enriching experiences of my life, and I look forward to doing this again in the upcoming years. The sessions were long, the nights were sleepless, and the workload was nearly unbearable, but I feel like this conference was a vital learning experience. We weren’t listening to teachers giving lectures, we were the ones that were the experts, and there was even a little friendly competition trying to get your resolution passed. The resolution that our country sponsored was not passed in the General Assembly, but just knowing that I was a part of a document like that, that could change the future of thousands of children, really changed my perspective on what the UN is, and how it operates. I look forward to continuing my participation in Model UN.”
“I am a homebody and as such, I generally do not enjoy going out or leaving my comfort zone. To be honest, I did not have very high expectations about going to New York and attending the Model UN Conference. I kept thinking that it was just going to be another trip, another week without my family, and a week without eating rice. However, after going to the conference, I realized that my previous assumptions were completely unfounded and I ended up having a really great time with my teammates and I realized, that sometimes, pushing past my comfort zone can be a good thing.
Perhaps my first concern when going on the trip was having to interact with a large group of people I have never met before. Since I have been attending the same school since Kindergarten, I have long forgotten what it feels like to be someone new to an environment. At Priory, everyone knows everyone. At the conference, let alone New York, you are just another face. Even though my committee was a fraction of the total amount of teenagers at the conference, there were still about 150 other people in the committee other than my partner and myself. That is about six times the size of my class and I was pretty terrified.
I went into the conference room early, when there were not that many people there yet. However, I had entered the room without my partner and thus, I was completely alone. As I began to beat myself over this decision, other delegates would come up to me and introduce themselves. We would exchange names, our schools, our home state or country, and our positions on the topic before our conversation came to a close. There was never actually a minute when I was alone though as, as soon as one conversation ended, a new conversation with a completely new person would begin. Suddenly, I felt like this was not a bad idea.
On that first night, I decided to push my comfort zone to the max and volunteered to be a page. Although the job was stressful because I could not remember where countries were, I ultimately thought it was a great learning experience. When I was having trouble finding a country, not only would my fellow page help me but other countries sitting near the aisle would also help to guide me if they knew where the country I was looking for was. Even though I realize that it was a hindrance to them to help me, I was extremely grateful for their assistance.
During the duration of the conference, I met people from around the country, Italy, Mexico, Singapore, Canada, and even Ghana. These fellow delegates were always very willing to help my partner and I navigate through our first conference by explaining the different procedures and the different terms being used by other delegates. There was also always someone who was willing to discuss with us about the topic. For example, we became close with one of the delegates from Eritrea. She was always willing to discuss with us about not only the topic but also the conference as a whole. For me, it was people like her who were willing to talk to us that made me feel like I was not ostracized at the conference.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed myself at the conference. It pushed my comfort zone when it came to socializing but it taught me that I have nothing to fear when it comes to interacting with others. Sure there will be that occasion rude person but for every person that is rude, there are a dozen more who are friendly and willing to help. I am extremely thankful for this opportunity and if given the chance to do so in the future, I would definitely volunteer to become part of the conference’s staff.”