Model UN: What’s in store for 2019-2020

Brendan Huston, sophomore representative for the MUN Club, assists a club member at a position paper workshop on Wednesday.

Isabella Jiang

Brendan Huston, sophomore representative for the MUN Club, assists a club member at a position paper workshop on Wednesday.

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Cresskill’s Model United Nations (MUN) Club has its eyes fixed ahead, with several hefty ambitions on the horizon. Fast-approaching are the Cresskill Conference — Cresskill’s annual in-house conference, slated for mid-December — and the Academy MUN Conference, this season’s first out-of-school conference. MUN is also considering attending The Bronx Science Model United Nations Conference (SciMUNC) and the National High School MUN Conference, as well as closing the year out with a bang — with, if logistics and scheduling work out, a field trip to the United Nations headquarters in Turtle Bay, Manhattan.

Before all else, though, MUN’s leadership understands that the club must first turn its focus inward, toward preparing new talent to run the gauntlet of first conferences and honing the skills of returning upperclassmen.

Sophomore Lucia Park, who joined the leadership team last June, believes this challenge is complicated by the size of the club. This year, a whopping 40 members, new and returning, signed up to participate in Model UN. Lucia notes that her experience on the board has awakened her to “the intricacies of being in a leadership position, especially for a club like Model UN where there are a lot more responsibilities because the club is so big.”

In such a large club, fostering a sense of close-knit community and mentorship is a unique challenge — but one MUN seeks to confront head-on. To kick off the year, MUN held a string of introductory How-to-MUN meetings to get newcomers oriented with the fundamentals of MUN, such as club expectations, position papers, and committee procedures. Come late October, MUN innovated a meeting format entirely unique to this season: in ‘Mock MUN’ meetings, new and returning members alike mingle in 45-minute simulations of MUN committee sessions. And these sessions have deftly threaded the needle between showing newcomers the ropes and continuing to challenge veterans. According to senior Nicole Huh, who has participated in the club since her freshman year, returning members have taken up a tacit responsibility as “role models”, and the benefits are twofold: “for the younger members,” she says, “observing older members at Mock MUN gives them a greater understanding of what’s expected of them. For [returning] members, [Mock MUN] gives them a greater experience in being a part of MUN by teaching the younger members.”

Isabella Jiang
Several members of the MUN leadership team meet on Monday to plan the Cresskill Conference.

Towards this end, MUN has also been putting technology to its fullest use, particularly by leveraging its Google Classroom page to encourage communication between members. The page is in a constant state of flux, and the exchanges that unfold on the stream speak to this year’s heightened engagement. On any given day, an experienced upperclassmen might post a position paper (a document that summarizes a delegation’s position on the topic at hand) for use as a guide for new members, as well as open themselves to peer review and critique. MUN additionally uses Google Classroom for its Mock MUN sessions: to assist in carrying out Roll Call (in which chairs take attendance and delegates establish whether they are obligated to vote or retain the option of neutrality), club members post their positions in comments underneath a central Classroom post. 

Lucia anticipates that there may be some more obstacles down the road, particularly “timing… considering that the planning for the in-house dates are very much reliant on how well the club members do in the practice moderated caucuses that have been happening during the club meetings.” Lucia additionally revealed that the Cresskill Conference had been originally scheduled for November, but that it was moved to December so as not to rush the learning process for new delegates.

But Nicole is confident that hurdles like these are surmountable. “The leadership team has been really helpful,” she says, “and I think they’re well-equipped to tackle anything that comes their way. I couldn’t be more excited for this season of MUN.”