Lawrenceville MUN Team Sweeps Annual Yale Conference

This past weekend, 12 members from the Lawrenceville Model United Nations (MUN) team traveled up to New Haven, Connecticut to compete in the 46th Annual Yale Model United Nations Conference.

This past weekend, 12 members from the Lawrenceville Model United Nations (MUN) team traveled up to New Haven, Connecticut to compete in the 46th Annual Yale Model United Nations Conference. Competing students were V Formers Anika Bagaria, Chris Delaney, Dami Kim, Arya Singh, and Elaine Wang; IV Formers Chris Crane, Jack Hallinan, Chris Pandapas, Avigna Ramachandran, and Jasper Zhu; and III Formers Ayan Schwartzenberg and Maksym Bondarenko. The School earned the title of Outstanding Small Delegation, as well as six individual honors: Bagaria won the Best Delegate award, and Hallinan, Ramachandran, Schwartzenberg, Singh, and Wang earned the Outstanding Delegate award in their respective committees. Bagaria and Kim led the delegation as co-presidents, and History Master Kim McMenamin served as the faculty advisor for this event.

In three days of debate, Lawrentians represented ambassadors from a range of nations to solve a variety of world issues, including women’s education in underdeveloped areas and the opium trade in Afghanistan. Students left for the conference on Thursday afternoon. Upon arrival, students attended the opening ceremony, in which a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) employee and a Rise Against Hunger representative addressed delegates and advisors. Yale Day took place on Friday morning, during which Model UN students have the opportunity to explore the Yale campus and attend workshops. Unfortunately, the last day and closing ceremonies were canceled this year.

Topics discussed at the conference encompassed a wide variety. Students were asked to vote on the first topic, prepare opening speeches, participate in moderated and unmoderated caucuses, and finally, vote on draft resolutions. Delegates were ultimately encouraged to form blocs with other member nations that shared similar positions on the issue. In addition, students had to submit position papers describing their country’s stance and prospective resolutions in order to qualify for awards.

A returning Model UN member, Singh was in the Tokyo 2020 committee, in which she represented Prince Feisal bin Al Hussein from Jordan and debated the topics of blood doping and transgender athlete rights. This year, Singh found her experience especially interesting. “Someone in my committee was visiting from New Zealand, and [there was] another from Singapore,” she said. While her committee last year consisted of around 80 people, she was in a small 12-member committee this year. “I think I liked the small delegation size more because it was easier to create resolutions, and I got to become friends with everyone in my blocs,” she said.

Hallinan participated in the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) committee and debated the ethicality and systemic issues behind global prison policies. On his main takeaway, Hallinan said, “There will always be difficult people in the way of what you are trying to achieve, and you can choose to handle it two different ways: you can either usurp them or be more reserved and respectful. At the end of the day, Model UN is about the way in which you handle those around you.” This year was Ramachandran’s first time at the conference. She was a member of the Social, Cultural, and Humanitarian Committee (SOCHUM), within the General Assembly. Ramachandran, along with her 80 fellow delegates, debated the issue of gender equity in access to education and disability rights. Shed said, “while it was definitely a challenging experience, I was able to develop my public speaking and collaboration skills.” Students come from all around the world to attend such gatherings, and “I really enjoyed getting to know and working with [them],” she said. It’s “a combination of luck and skill,” Singh said in reference to the awards. “The most important award was the all-school outstanding small delegation because we really compete as a team, and it’s exciting to see our weekly practices pay off.” Hallinan added, “I think that MUN is a great way to use some skills, academic or otherwise, that you have accumulated.” Reflecting on the year as a whole, McMenamin said, “We had an incredibly worthwhile and successful showing this year… It’s fulfilling to see how this student-run club can take on some of the strongest teams on the international high school circuit. While our squad meets only a few hours a month… some teams are enrolled in a Model UN class at school.”