I Survived Model UN: Tales from Horizon Honors Delegates

On October 28, the Horizon Honors Model United Nations team attended the second annual Westwood Model UN conference.

Naya Johnson, Columnist

This past Saturday, the Horizon Honors Model United Nations team had the opportunity to compete in the Westwood Model United Nations (WMUN) conference at Westwood High School. The team consisted of six members: freshman Ben Brady, sophomore Nicole Johnson, sophomore Allison Hale, sophomore Sarai Crawford, junior Yosra Zourob, and senior Emily Labatt. They comprised three different delegations. Zourob and Crawford represented the Republic of Turkey in the World Health Organization (WHO) and the General Assembly (GA). Their topics were “Ensuring Human Security in Post-Conflict and Conflict Countries” and “Addressing Pandemics and other Global and Regional Health Crises.” Johnson and Labatt spoke for the Kingdom of Denmark in the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the WHO. These two delegates were expected to advocate their country’s perspectives in the following issues: “Ensuring Water Security in a Changing Environment” and “Addressing Pandemics and other Global and Regional Health Crises.” Lastly, Brady and Hale represented the Republic of Korea in the UNEP and the First Committee (First). They were confronted with similar crises aforementioned, such as “Ensuring Water Security in a Changing Environment” and “The Impact of Terrorism on the Process of Nuclear Disarmament.”

In addition to bringing home their second award, the Horizon Honor’s Model UN team also grew their skills, due to being placed in difficult and ever-changing circumstances. The delegates were expected to adapt to every scenario, and had to be familiar with practically every aspect of their countries’ key policies in order to flourish within their select committees. After attending the first conference of the year, Hale, Zourob, and Crawford are ready to impart their experiences.

The Horizon Sun: What was the atmosphere like, with the combination of both novice and experienced delegates?

Zourob: Stressful, because there was a group of people who knew what they were doing and who were more experienced than the rest of us. There was also a lot of [obvious tension] at the beginning, since everyone was trying to get a word in.

Crawford: It was scary, and I was very intimidated. I felt like I should’ve known more just because they were more experienced than me.

Hale: First off, no one was experienced in my committee except for me, and even then, I hardly qualify, since I’ve only been to one conference so far other than WMUN. People were stressed and confused. A lot of delegates were hesitant to step up, but after a while, people got more into it. Once, one of the delegates gave a speech, but no one would ask him any P25s (questions), and it got awkward quickly.

The Sun: There are three major parts to every conference: caucus, substantive debate, and the speakers’ list. Do you mind describing each part and your take on it?

YZ: Caucus went as I expected. It was the easiest part, and the least tense. People who weren’t comfortable with speaking could talk without being forced, so it wasn’t awkward. In the second caucus, the leaders were more evident, and their experience was more apparent. I felt like I needed more research and understanding to get on the same level as them at first. Substantive debate was taxing, to say the least. There was a clear line between those who did well, and, well, everyone else.

SC: In caucus, delegates got to get to know each other from the perspective of their countries. We discussed our policy papers and our short speeches, and that was when we really got to know each other. Substantive debate was my favorite part of the entire conference because my group and I were really involved in the conference, and we were really proud of our resolution. Hearing other people’s speeches was nerve-racking because they were very thought-out, but it was interesting to hear their differences and what their countries were doing to settle them.

AH:  In caucus, I had a girl come up to me and ask, “Do you know what’s going on? What are we supposed to be doing?” I said,“We are supposed to be asking other countries about their views.” I found a group, and we talked about similar views, then created a bloc (caucus group). After that, I went over to another group and talked to them, and they had similar views, too.  Everyone had similar views except for Israel and Iran. The entire conference was circular in opinions, but everyone seemed to hate each other. That was because a few delegates started to bring in their own personal views on an issue, so discussion got biased.They didn’t understand diplomacy.

The Sun: The goal of the conference is to form and pass a resolution on your topic with the help of delegates whose countries share similar views. What was the resolution-writing process like, and which countries did you cooperate with to create it?

YZ:  I worked with Russia, Syria, India, Palestine, Belgium, and Taiwan. Because I was in a group of experienced people, I wasn’t pressured to know the process. I went with the flow of the format. If I had been in another caucus group, I would’ve messed up. It was quick.

SC: Nicaragua, Iran, Japan, Spain, Uruguay, and Australia. The process was very challenging because everyone had different viewpoints and we all had our own computers sharing one document. Initially, there was a lot of miscommunication, but we got past that phase. It was also a good thing, because I connected with the delegates in my committee.

AH: Palestine, Sweden, Nepal, and Poland. It was pretty easy, since I’ve done it before. It was hard working as a group, though, since I had to teach them how to write the resolution. I had it under control, but I got annoyed at times because they didn’t follow the format in the beginning.

The Sun: The chair at WMUN were responsible for familiarizing you with the various rules and events within the conference. Did your chair help you at all? Do you feel more comfortable?

YZ: I felt comfortable because they are around the same age as us. They did an okay job at helping us, and sometimes it was confusing because even they didn’t know what to do.

SC: Our chair were college students and they were very kind and patient. They were still trying to figure out what they had to do as the chair; it was nice to know that we weren’t the only ones learning. I felt a lot more comfortable because it allowed the WHO committee and the chair to have more fun and relax.

AH: They tried to help us. We got a really long lecture when the conference first started, on how we were supposed to behave. I think it would’ve been more beneficial if I were new to conferences, but I’m not.

The Sun: What did you think of your committee(s)?

YZ: Some were well-researched, and  knew what they were doing. Most delegates had some experience. Others were completely clueless because their advisors didn’t teach them anything. It was hard to communicate with those delegates, especially since they didn’t know anything about their countries.

SC: I think my committee (and I don’t want to be rude) was scary. There were more countries that were stricter than others, and their speeches were constructed and elaborate.

AH: They were a lot of fun. It was interesting to discuss the impacts of terrorism on nuclear disarmament and how everything works hand-in-hand with all of them.

The Sun: Did you befriend any countries within your committee(s)?

YZ: Syria, Russia, and Belgium. Even though our countries disagreed on some things, we came to an understanding.

SC: Spain, and Belgium (he was cute). We got along because our countries had instituted similar health policies.

AH: I got along well with Nigeria, Nepal, and Sweden. I think they got annoyed with me at one point, since I couldn’t commit to something they must’ve asked of me.

The Sun: Do you plan to continue with Model UN after this experience?

YZ:  Yes, even though I might reconsider the next conference. It takes a lot of work, but it’s fun.

SC:  Yes, I plan to continue with MUN in order to develop my knowledge of other countries.

AH: Yes. I plan to take up the leadership role next year and build off of what Nicole’s continually investing in the club and all of us. She’s a great president, and next year, when I’m in charge, the two of us will try to organize a trip abroad. Then we can study the culture and legislation of other countries firsthand.

The Sun: Anything else you’d like to add?

YZ: I would recommend it for anyone who has a fear of public speaking. It slowly eases you out of your comfort zone, and gets you involved in what’s going on beyond our borders.

SC:  It was really nice to see everyone work together. It was also cool to see other schools get together and relate on real-world issues.

AH: It gave us a headstart in preparing for our next conference.

All in all, the Model UN team did an outstanding job at their first conference of the year, and more importantly, they lived to tell the tale.