The Washington Area Model United Nations Conference is a conference as steeped in tradition as its host college, but this year’s rendition started many new trends — quite literally in the case of Twitter, which saw #WAMUNC trending!
Put on by the George Washington University International Affairs Society, WAMUNC XVI was held from March 20-23, 2014 at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, DC, marking the first WAMUNC to be held in a hotel rather than on GWU’s campus.
The conference brought approximately 1,200 delegates to the nation’s capital, attracting delegations from across the US and the globe. This year’s roster boasted a diverse set of schools, including delegations hailing from the local Washington metropolitan area, the United Nations International School in New York City, Puerto Rico, Gambia, Panama, Colombia, and Venezuela.
From the outset, the message of the conference was a call to action, the idea that the work the delegates would do and the discussions they would engage in over the course of the weekend went beyond the confines of the conference and the walls of the hotel. Accordingly, the secretariat, staff, and speakers endeavored to show delegates that the knowledge they gained and the skills they learned in their committees could translate into the “real” world.
At Opening Ceremonies, keynote speaker Dean Pittman, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations, engaged delegates in a discussion and Q&A about international affairs and policy.
Ryan also spoke at opening ceremonies and he called delegates to action by encouraging them to share their “MUN story.” Ryan shared his own story for how he got involved in MUN and described Best Delegate’s vision of “One Million Delegates.”
One example of this call to action is WAMUNC’s philanthrophy initiatives. This year’s chosen charity was Instituto Mundo Libre (IML), an organization based in Peru that provides prevention and rehablitation programs for high-risk youth.
WAMUNC alumnus Barnett Koven represented the charity at the conference, visiting committees to encourage donations. Committees competed to raise funds, spurred on by promises of the chairs and staff doing funny or embarrassing things such as getting pied in the face or serenading the committee, plus the sale of WAMUNC merchandise, the delegates, advisors, and staff of WAMUNC raised $4,500 for IML over the course of the weekend.
WAMUNC also gave the delegates a chance to personally support the work of the United Nations through UNA-USA’s “Thank a Peacekeeper” program. Delegates were given the opportunity to write thank you notes to UN Peacekeepers on “Blue Helmet” cards, which came with the added bonus of free membership to the UN Association.
Through participating in this philanthropic outreach, delegates were able to make a concrete difference in the global community and learn about ways in which they can continue to do so post-conference.
WAMUNC also took advantage of its location in the heart of Washington DC to give delegates a glimpse into real-world diplomacy and international affairs, both through excursions to embassies and think tanks around the city and through members of GW faculty that shared their expertise on topically-relevant topics as in-committee speakers.
Meanwhile, on the committee front, delegates engaged in a mix of General Assembly committees as well as several smaller, crisis-driven simulations. Committees included UNESCO, UN Security Council, and a special emergency GA session to discuss Syria. But WAMUNC also featured an eclectic mash-up of historical, corporate, fantastical, and acutely-relevant bodies, such as the Roman Senate, Apple Inc. Innovation Crisis, a Lord of the Rings JCC, and Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. The Ukraine simulation proved particularly relevant, as the course of committee mirrored and was influenced by real-life, real-time developments in the Ukraine and Russia.
All in all, it was a weekend full of new, exciting, and challenging experiences for all involved. As the conference wound to a close, Secretary-General Roderick Lee summed up the goals of WAMUNC nicely:
“I hope delegates take the skills that they learned and the connections that they made in committee and take it into their professional career, take it into their personal life, and make themselves a better person for it.”
Congratulations to the following delegations on their awards!
- Outstanding Small Delegation: School Without Walls (Washington DC)
- Outstanding Large Delegation: West Windsor Plainsboro High School North (New Jersey)
- Best Small Delegation: Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy (Pennsylvania)
- Best Large Delegation: West Windsor Plainsboro High School South (New Jersey)
Congratulations to all delegates, advisors, and staff on a great conference!