Model UN thrives at White House, NAIMUN conference

Members volunteered at the White House and attended conference

New+Trier+Model+UN+delegates+in+line+before+security+screening+in+order+to+visit+White+House+%7C+Guthrie
New Trier Model UN delegates in line before security screening in order to visit White House | Guthrie

New Trier Model UN delegates in line before security screening in order to visit White House | Guthrie

New Trier Model UN delegates in line before security screening in order to visit White House | Guthrie

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Model United Nations’ recent trip to the North American International Model United Nations Conference combined with volunteer work at the White House made for transformative experience for the members of New Trier’s Model UN program.

The NAIMUN conference, hosted by Georgetown University, occurred from Feb. 15 — 18 in Washington, D.C. According to the official website, the conference is “one of the largest and oldest UN simulations for high school students in North America and the world” where a staggering number of MUN teams from across the nation gather their delegates to “seek, through discussion, negotiation and debate, solutions to the various problems of the world.”

“[It’s an] invitational Model UN conference with mostly North American teams, and some teams from Europe and Asia with over 2000 people,” said freshman Alex Gordon.

What differentiates NAIMUN from other Model UN, or MUN, conferences is primarily the number of students in attendance. “We try to do both local and regional conferences, which are a little bit smaller. [NAIMUN] is unique because of the size. There were 3500 students there — the size is what makes it a big, national conference,” said MUN sponsor Brent Strom.

As with most MUN conferences, the NAIMUN conference involves the delegates from different schools diving into a variety of events.

“We had 15 students in attendance, and for the most part, they represented countries,” explained Strom. Some of our students were able to represent different historical debates. It’s all about simulation; you simulate these events and these conversations as you play a role.”

For the students involved in the historical debates, these delegates had the task of debating a resolution on a specific issue.

“The conference has committees covering topics ranging from human rights issues to war topics to historical cabinets for people like Alexander the Great,” said sophomore Lindsey Falk. “For each committee, there are four days of debate and writing that hopefully amount to passing a resolution paper about the issues at hand.”

These committees typically consist of one- or two-person delegations, and the individual sessions themselves can last between 1.5 to 4 hours, according to freshman Maya Crystal.

Though the teams may be two people, New Trier’s delegates worked cooperatively to tackle complex issues, as was the case with Gordon.

“My role was to debate how the UN could defeat terrorism. One person would debate while the other teammate would form an alliance and type a resolution paper outside the room,” explained Gordon.

The delegates’ intense work paid off for some of New Trier’s MUN members in the form of an award as well.

“My double and I got Honorable Mention in our committee, Legal, which we were very excited about because we had been working really hard on speeches and writing for the whole weekend,” said Falk.

It’s particularly significant that New Trier chose to attend the NAIMUN conference because of its location in Washington, D.C., the center scene for the United States government and American politics.

“The conference was hosted in Georgetown, which meant it was really close to D.C. Students who participate in MUN are usually highly interested in politics, and being near D.C. gave us the opportunity to see the government in action,” explained Crystal. “Furthermore, the conference is a major conference and draws students internationally, which is just overall a cool experience.”

As Crystal mentioned, while in D.C., not only did New Trier attend the NAIMUN conference, but they also got the unique opportunity to visit the White House and other government buildings and witness their day-to-day functions, even getting involved in doing some tasks for the White House, such as sorting presidential mail.

“We had the chance to work with the correspondence department of the White House, a job that not many students have been able to do,” said senior club head Jaine Archambeau. “We got to work with the letters people write the president. We were [also] offered a tour of both the White House as well as the Capitol that really allowed us to get an inside look at government.”

For many of the MUN members, both experiences at the conference and the White House were particularly inspiring and left them in awe.

“[Touring] the White House and Congress buildings were both incredible experiences, as we got to see the history of such significant government buildings,” noted Falk.

Crystal had an experience that was just as fantastic as Falk’s. “MUN conferences are always super fun and a great place to make new friends. The opportunities we had in D.C. were particularly cool,” said Crystal.

Not only was the team’s time in D.C. rewarding, but it helped to gain insight into the reality of working with the government. “We all actually got hand-signed letters from the president for our work at the White House, which was an honor, to say the least,” explained Archambeau. 

“[The experience] gave me a lot of perspective on our government. I met some really amazing people from all over and learned a lot about the opportunities that are available to me in terms of future employment.”

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