If you’ve watched the news you may have heard of the international body known as the United Nations. This organization has been important to mediating between conflicts worldwide and determining how countries can work together to solve world problems from poverty to climate change. However, one result of the United Nations has stuck out to students over the decades, and that is the Model United Nations.
Model UN has been a widely revered and prestigious event for students to attend worldwide. During the conferences, students from all over the country and world who will then become known as delegates will represent countries that are assigned to them, and then discuss and debate policy for the respective committees they are in. The events have been a very respected way for students to converse on important issues in the world, and have been a way to create unofficial solutions to solve world problems that represent and resemble actual UN resolutions.
During my time with the Model UN program in Cohasset (which was during my freshman and sophomore years), I’ve attended two separate conferences. First the National High School Model UN conference run in New York City which holds its commencement speech at the UN Headquarters, and second, with the Harvard Model UN conference run out of the Prudential Center by current Harvard students (one of which graduated from CHS). Through the past two years the conferences have been of significant impact and of value to myself and other students that have attended. One of the biggest impressions that these conferences have left upon me, is that of the sheer amount of students that attend and each delegate’s background. During committees when talking with other students I have met students from as close to town as Hingham, along with meeting students who traveled all the way from Venezuela, Great Britain, France, and Bangladesh, just to name a few. The sheer diversity of attendees is just phenomenal considering these are conferences within driving distance, and this helps emphasize the further value of the program as the school continues to look for students to help build an identity and culture at CHS.
Besides the diversity of each conference, is the political aspect. The United Nations is an international organization that works to mediate between countries on anything from establishing emissions guidelines to holding emergency meetings to respond to war. The vast spectrum of political and social policy in the actual UN is separated into dozens of committees, from general assemblies that all countries attend, to regional committees and specialized committees where maybe only a dozen countries sent delegates to. Either way, this translates over into Model UN, where students can choose what committees they are depending on their interests. Once in committees, after several days of substantial debate and discussion between student delegates this will eventually culminate into draft resolutions created by groups of students, and once the list is shrunk down to two resolutions, a vote finishes the conference. This wide array of discussion that occurs helps to give students a platform where they can actually speak face to face to real people who share the same interests or ideas as you, or the opposite ideas but they are still willing to hold productive discussion. The whole drafting process also helps to show the work that our real ambassadors have to put in, constantly negotiating and reworking plans to accommodate to the ideas or goals of another country.
As written above, the benefits to a Model UN program are overwhelming. From giving students the opportunity to hear different perspectives, to learning how real policy is planned and made, and to meeting new people that you would have never known before, you would think that the school would invest into this enriching opportunity. However, in the 2019-2020 school year that is not the case. Due to unforeseen circumstances alongside complications above the students control, the program will be ceasing for the time being. While nothing will change the fact that the program has been suspended at CHS, nothing will change the fact that students were surprised and blindsided by the decision. Junior Ethan Maxwell when asked about the ceasing of the program, he said he felt “Disappointment I guess,” and that “I enjoyed the trip in years past and was looking forward to doing it all four years of high school.” Ethan’s disappointment wasn’t alone with the decision. Junior Shaw Hutton when asked about the decision said “I was actually pretty upset with it…” and that “…now not only are we detained from expanding our knowledge of the world and its government, but now we have to live in disappointment as Model UN was a lot of fun and we cannot experience that again as we graduate.” This sentiment has been felt by many who have participated in the program, and with many conferences have now closed their registrations, the door of opportunity has closed for the next year.
While this year the program is shuttered, there has been some developments that have shone a light on the future of the program. In recent weeks, the teachers who have run the program have been answering questions and have tried to give hope to students who have shown an interest in the program. In a recent response to the writing of this article, Mr. Luvisi and Mr. Welch have said they “… will continue to answer students’ questions as we work toward developing an even better program for next year. One that further nurtures independence, responsible decision making, and high academic standards.” From this, it seems that the potential for the programs continuation is now there, and with the advisers offering to answer questions, transparency can be given on the progression of future conferences for the 2020-21 school year. With a future conference still likely being over a year away, it’s now a matter of time before Model UN can resume at Cohasset High School.