Before Secretary General Jennifer Chuang gaveled the fifteenth session of the Washington Area Model United Nations Conference into session, she left the delegates with a theme for the weekend. Teamwork makes the dream work. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Director General of the US Foreign Service, also echoed this theme throughout her keynote speech. She talked about her experiences overseas, and throughout the Q&A with the delegates, the same main idea tied her answers together: she had a support system; a team of people who throughout her life were always there for her, and helped her achieve her dreams of becoming a Foreign Service Officer. Although clichéed, the phrase truly stuck with me, especially as a first time MUN chair (yes, I’ve done MUN for three years, and yes, this was my first time flying solo as a Chair).
My experience chairing at WAMUNC was nothing short of rewarding. After attending or staffing five MUN conferences this school year alone, it would have been easy to just go through the “motions,” making the committee just like any other UN ECOSOC simulation. However, I didn’t join Model UN in the first place to just simply continue with the way things had been done before. I wanted to make the committee something memorable for my delegates.
First, I chose topics that aren’t often talked about in MUN debate; science topics. And not just any science topics; my vice chairs, Nicole Bohannon and Brittany Crosby, helped narrow down the litany of topics we brainstormed to Space Exploration and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) platforms. We knew that the topics would be challenging for high schoolers, but we were confident that they would rise to the occasion.
To be honest, I was shocked and awed by the intellect that my delegates showed in committee throughout the weekend. Although some of them had never done Model UN before, they did an amazing job of working collaboratively to develop a plan to give developing nations access to information technology platforms. They also debated for upwards of half an hour about different kinds of living organisms that have been found in outer space; it wasn’t really pertinent to debate, but I was too fascinated to stop them! One of the delegates even shyly admitted that he was writing a crash-course in astrophysics book, and all of the delegates were interested in reading the introduction.
One of the facets of WAMUNC that sets it a cut above the rest in terms of conference programming is the access to the excellent faculty of GWU that are available to delegates as committee speakers. For my committee, I chose to have Dr. Scott Pace, Director of the Space Policy Institute here at GWU, and former Assistant Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House during Bush 43’s administration. He spoke with the delegates of my committee for about an hour, fielding questions about the future of space exploration and how we will work with international partners to continue our involvement in the International Space Station. The delegates were able to use the knowledge they gained from Dr. Pace’s presentation to make their working papers even more scientific.
Overall, my first experience chairing was phenomenal The delegates exceeded my expectations in terms of their preparedness and seriousness, and the Secretariat and other staffers at WAMUNC were so professional and a pleasure to work alongside. Everyone, it seems, had an incredibly productive and entertaining weekend, showcasing that teamwork truly does make the dream work. Below are a few committee blurbs submitted by the Chairs to the Secretariat of WAMUNC XV:
“The FBI Red Scare committee debated substantive measures to defeat the threat of communism. The delegates had a deep bench of knowledge on the subject and successfully stemmed the Red tide in America with measures including arrests, assassinations and a military tribunal.” – Ryan Counihan, Chair of the FBI Red Scare Committee
“Over this past weekend, the League of Arab States has convened to fiercely debate possible solutions to the crisis in Syria and the Iran/Israel conflict; delegates passed resolutions, cooperated despite their differences, and learned just how much money their nations actually have. Delegates successfully proposed and passed solutions that promote the ideals of Islam as well as ensure the continued wealth of the member nations.” – Kalli McCoy, Chair of the League of Arab States
“The UNFCCC was the best committee I have ever had the pleasure to chair. The delegates were productive, engaged, and most of all fun. We had a great time learning about climate change, tweeting, and saving the planet! I loved all my delegates, and you all did a fantastic job!” – Melissa Miller, Chair of the UNFCCC
Before WAMUNC XV came to a close, Roderick Lee, Secretary General of WAMUNC XVI, unveiled the next chapter of WAMUNC: A move to the Renaissance Hotel at Gallery Place for WAMUNC XVI, “Our Sweet 16.” Below you’ll find a video of Dr. Steven Knapp, President of the George Washington University, welcoming everyone back for next year’s conference: