Lawrentians Attend Yale Model UN Conference

From January 21 to 24, 11 members of Lawrenceville’s Model UN team attended the annual Yale Model UN Conference (YMUN).

From January 21 to 24, 11 members of Lawrenceville’s Model UN team attended the annual Yale Model UN Conference (YMUN). Participants included MUN Club Presidents Jack Hallinan ’21 and Avigna Ramachandran ’21, as well as Chris Crane ’21, Christopher Pandapas ’21, Summer Qureshi ’22, Ayan Schwartzenberg ’22, and III Formers Emily Hammond, Emma Kim, George McCain, Aiden Rourke, and Sean Wu. Qureshi received an Outstanding Delegate honor, and Schwartzenberg and McCain received Honorable Mentions.

Every year, members of the Lawrenceville Model UN club have the opportunity to participate in YMUN. According to the Yale International Relations Association, YMUN brings together over 1,800 delegates from 40 different countries. The website notes that the conference’s goal is to “create a dynamic and engaging committee experience for delegates of all skill levels” and to “leave delegates with a greater awareness of global issues.” YMUN features a variety of different committees based on region and specialization, such as the United Nations Human Rights Council and the Association of South East Asian Nations. Delegates are randomly assigned to a committee in which they represent their country’s stance on that particular issue or area of focus.

While in a typical year Lawrenceville students would miss a few days of class to visit New Haven to attend the conference, this time, they were able to attend this year’s event fully virtually without having to miss school. Nevertheless, participants are able to get a lot out of both virtual and in-person conferences. On being able to attend YMUN in-person, Ramachandran reflected, “It really is [a] super exhilarating and...engaging experience when you’re in person because you get to talk to people face to face. For her, being able to “stand up in front of a room and speak” while also “us[ing] more body language” in her speeches allowed her to “really connect with people.”

While the “tangible energy that comes with Model UN obviously wasn’t there in a virtual format,” Ramachandran thought that the organizers of YMUN still “did a great job.”

Similarly, although Hallinan was initially disappointed that the team could not travel to New Haven, as he “always thought of Model UN as being very much a physical experience,” he thought that the virtual format “carried over better than [he] was expecting.”

In fact, Ramachandran said that there were certain parts of Model UN that were actually made more efficient and streamlined because of the virtual format. “On Zoom, all you have to do is click on the person to send them a message. I did think that was a little easier, and you can reach out to more people,” she said.

Likewise, Hallinan said, “Virtually, the most exciting thing is that [the conference is] moving constantly, it’s so fast-paced and forces you to stay on your toes.”

As a result of the campus safety precautions from the pandemic, the Model UN club held all its meetings and preparations for the conference online. Similar to in-person meetings, Hallinan and Ramachandran would have their team send in its position papers for review and editing. They would also host “boot camps”’ for participants to read their opening speeches and ask any questions they may have had.

Nevertheless, the team initially had trouble transitioning platforms. Reflecting on the past term of virtual Model UN meetings, Ramachandran noted that shifting online “definitely was an adjustment,” as speaking in front of a computer was very different from the full experience of “speaking in front of 20 people in a Lawrenceville conference room.” Despite this major change, Ramachandran said that being virtual was helpful in “having people come to meetings more frequently” and creating a more “comfortable space” for underclassmen to participate. She continued by saying that YMUN being virtual this year gave more underclassmen the opportunity to partake in the event and “gain exposure early on” to the diplomatic and competitive nature of Model UN.

Quereshi reflected, “My committee chairs told us how the online platform actually allowed them to accept more students both nationally and internationally...While winning Outstanding Delegate...was definitely gratifying,...I think I most enjoyed learning from the synergy and the diverse perspectives each delegate brought.”

On the experience of participating in a virtual YMUN, Schwartzenberg reflected, “I was expecting it to be a debacle filled with technical failures, especially being in a different time zone, but overall the conference went quite smoothly. My committee of about 80 people was collaborating effectively with some of the strongest delegates I’ve seen in my MUN experience thus far...It was an amazing experience that was absolutely worth sacrificing my sleep for.”

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