On Saturday, November 11th, the ninth anniversary of the Centennial Model United Nations Conference took place, where students from all over Howard County got the chance to gather and do what Model UN students do best: solve the world’s problems one delegate at a time.
Students arrived early Saturday morning to meet at Centennial High School, eager to begin their day of debating and resolving issues from around the world. Out of the nine committees that convened, discussion topics ranged from modern day human trafficking to Syrian chemical weapons. Model UN clubs from all over the county had been preparing for weeks to go the Centennial Conference, which will prepare them to going to more elite conventions. Atholton’s own Model UN club will be heading to Hood College to participate in an American UN simulation on February 2nd, 2018, which will include people from all over the state instead of just countywide.
“I feel like it gives young people an opportunity to discuss topics that impact the world a lot,” said Serena Rosada, a Model UN member from Frederick High School, “and that inspires us to want to change the world.”
It wasn’t just Serena Rosada that felt that way. Emma Donohue, an Atholton Model UN member said, “It was a lot of fun and really interesting. Meeting new people was awesome.”
This year’s turnout for the Centennial Convention was one of the largest in the school’s history, with over three hundred model delegates present.This delegates have been researching over the course of the last several months, which culminated into a single document called a position paper. Then, at the Centennial Convention, the student delegates debated their findings. Every Model UN delegate submitted their research to the Centennial Model UN staff to be reviewed and hopefully nominated for an award.
A position paper can be a delegate’s most important piece of information when it comes time to get to work. “There’s a lot of things that you want to include,” said Yara Ayache, a freshmen at Atholton. “Making your position paper concise can be the hardest part of Model UN. You have to really decided what’s pertinent to include and what’s not.”
Fellow model delegate Donohue couldn’t help but agree with Ayache, saying that, “It’s either cramming a lot of information into that one page or . . . cramming not a lot of information into one page. You either have too much space or too little.”
Besides writing a position paper, Model UN also builds character skills that are essential for everyday life. “I think students should join Model UN not only to learn about what’s going on in the world, but also to gain confidence and techniques about public speaking,” said Rosada.
With public speaking also comes the chance to connect with people from the other thirteen high schools in Howard County. “It feels nice to be able to talk with a lot of students and hear other’s views and perspectives on different subjects,” added Ayache. “You get the chance to think about things that you wouldn’t have thought about previously.”
However, one fear that often scares away students from joining Model UN is the thought of having to speak in front of a bunch of strangers. With the required work of extensive research, planning an opening statement, and practicing your speeches for hours on end in front of a mirror the night before, Model UN can sound like quite the terrifying club. But sophomore Donohue had something to say about all that as well. “It looks intimidating, but don’t be afraid to join,” she said. “I was really intimidated and nervous for my first committee but afterwards, when I had to leave early, I didn’t even want to go.”
Christian Maric, another Atholton delegate, also enjoys being able to argue with other Howard County students about global issues. “My favorite part is participating in the conferences and speaking to other delegates. You really feel this inclusiveness during the whole thing,” he said. While Model UN can appear a little bit frightening at first, it seems that there is definitely a reward for anyone who ventures to join. Maric added, “If you’re a good student, enjoy writing, doing research, and need to improve or already enjoy public speaking, it’s a great club to join. As long as you put in the work and you participate, it will certainly be worth your time.”