Marking its first official event since its debut at Walpole High School (WHS), the Model United Nations (Model U.N.) club attended the Innovated Model U.N. Conference at Northeastern University on March 2 to discuss global nuclear disarmament among several other schools from the area.
Despite this year being Model U.N.’s first as an official WHS club, the students performed particularly well at the Northeastern conference, and Model U.N. President Jenna McDonald, a junior at WHS, hopes they do even better next conference.
“Because we are so new to the club and conferences as a whole, I WHS students discuss nuclear disarmament at Northeastern University am incredibly pleased with the team’s performance,” McDonald said. “For the next conference, which I hope is more advanced in comparison to the beginner-esque one we attended, I hope the team wins some awards for best position paper or best delegate.”
In Model U.N., students behave as United Nations delegates and the committees within it; certain students represent different countries and debate issues, eventually forming a resolution at the end. WHS History Teacher Matthew Kowalski, who advises the group, hopes to use the club as a platform for students to gain a broader sense of global issues.
“I want to help students become internationally-minded: to be aware of and to care about global issues,” Kowalski said. “Model U.N. requires students to discuss global topics and to study the perspectives of various countries on those topics.”
During a conference, each school’s delegates meet with delegates from other schools. There, they make proposals on how to ameliorate the predetermined issue—the one at the Northeastern conference being nuclear disarmament. There are two forms of debate, moderated and unmoderated caucus. Moderated caucus consists of the Chair calling on delegates one at a time and each speaker briefly addressing the committee. Unmoderated caucus is when the committee breaks for a temporary recess from formal proceedings so delegates can work in smaller groups. To hold a caucus, a delegate must make a motion, and the committee must pass it. Through these caucuses, delegates begin forming resolution papers voted on at the end, with a 50% majority required to pass.
“I have always enjoyed discussing current events anywhere from national to global in scale, so Model U.N. has become one of my favorite parts of the week,” McDonald said. “I feel I have been exposed to many more events happening around the world and have a broader sense of how different events affect different nations.”
Although Model U.N. made its school debut this year, this conference was not their first experience meeting together. Last year, a group primarily composed of WHS seniors met at the Walpole Public Library in an informal Model U.N., where they met weekly to discuss various global issues. Model U.N. Vice President Caroline McGrath was one of the students who attended and later decided to ask Kowalski to assist in bringing it to the high school.
“I’ve learned a lot about how important it is to convey your ideas clearly because it opens up new lines of communication, so you don’t have to clam up or give someone the silent treatment,” McGrath said. “I’ve also learned a lot about negotiation; in a small room where 60 people with different plans and goals are trying to come together to pass a law, it’s not just your goals that are important—it’s everyone’s.”