April 3, 2006

Model UN Draws High Schoolers

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Diplomacy ascended above Cayuga’s waters this weekend as nearly 500 high school students participated in the fourth annual Cornell Model United Nations Conference (CMUNC). This year’s conference, the largest in CMUNC history, attracted over 28 high schools from across the country and the United Kingdom.

Defense Department official Jeffrey Nadaner kicked off the conference Thursday evening at an opening ceremony where he spoke on the current global climate and the challenges faced by America and its allies. After the opening ceremonies, delegates took part in a variety of different committees ranging from the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and the Israeli Cabinet of 1948 to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations Global Development Program. Students worked long hours over the weekend to reach meaningful resolutions on the various issues debated in each committee and were presented with unforeseen crisis scenarios that required immediate responses and cooperation amongst the delegates.

“I have been here since the first conference and this year has been better than any other so far,” said Eugene Chen ’06, chair of the conference’s 1919 Paris Peace Conference Committee. “The students have been doing such a great job and all of us on the staff have been really impressed.”

However the weekend wasn’t all work and no fun – the delegates also rolled up their sleeves and let loose in the Duffield Atrium at the delegate dance.

Most of the high school delegations stayed at the Holiday Inn in the Commons and were shuttled back and forth from campus, with the exception of Ithaca and Lansing High Schools who commuted from home. Yet all the invited groups had a chance to take private campus tours and attend information sessions of the college of their choice on Saturday morning. Some however, chose instead to take advantage of the beautiful weather and sun bathe on the arts quad during their only morning off.

“CMUNC is not only a great opportunity for students to debate and discuss important events, it’s also a chance for us to show off Cornell. After all, these kids will all be applying to colleges very soon,” added Chandra Ghosal ’08, the conference’s chief of staff of the secretariat.

At the closing ceremonies yesterday afternoon, two awards were given to the best large and small delegation for the whole conference, in addition to individual awards given to students who demonstrated great ability during committees. The two winning schools were R.S. McLaughlin CVI from Ontario, Canada and West Windsor-Plainsboro South from New Jersey.

Sean Thorpe, a junior at the Backwell School in England shared that, “[CMUNC] is a very different system than in England, but it was still very interesting and a great way to get an inside look at an American university. This was our first year here but I am definitely going to discuss with our headmaster returning to next years conference.”

Archived article by Josh Harris
Sun Staff Writer