Stanford Model United Nations (SMUNC) is one of the most unique high school conferences in the world as it is one of very few conferences where every committee is crisis-driven. The smaller committees, innovative crises, decreasing emphasis on competition and awards, and prestige of the Stanford campus continue to be major draws as this conference grew from 600 delegates last year to 900 delegates this year from throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Costa Rica, making Stanford now the largest high school crisis conference in the world. In addition, Stanford was very proud to welcome the East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy, a charter school that participated at the conference for the first time due to the support of the SMUNC Outreach program.
Prior to attending the conference, I had already heard that SMUNC had a reputation for doing things differently than the rest of the circuit. Advisors had praised the conference for its innovative and fun crises which really challenged the delegates to think on their feet instead of sticking to prepared research. I finally got a first-hand observation and now I can confirm that the crises are indeed extremely out-of-the-box: Quebecois citizens mounting a rebellion by riding polar bears, Rome and Carthage obtaining nuclear weapons, and several apocalyptic events such as zombie and alien invasions. To paraphrase SMUNC 2012 Executive Director Hao Yi Ong during Closing Ceremonies, fantasy has become reality. Although traditionalists may not enjoy these types of crises, plenty of advisors and students enjoy and see the value of continual creative problem-solving, and these types of crises seem to be a reflection of the more innovative, non-conformist, and experimental culture at Stanford.
Here are several photos from the conference, but make sure to check out the SMUNC 2012 photo album on Facebook!
Check out more photos here: SMUNC 2012 photo album on Facebook
Best Large: Henry M. Gunn High School
Best Small: Strathcona Tweedsmuir School
Thank you to the SMUNC 2012 Secretariat for having me visit! Congratulations to all the participants for a fun conference!