Joe Murphy, Joe Morgan and Austin Bacola
Jamesville-DeWitt High School’s Model United Nations team traveled four hours to one of our nation’s most prestigious universities, Columbia University in New York City, to compete in a five-day international conference on Jan 18.
This conference was special; it’s MUN’s version of a state athletic competition, according to J-DHS social studies teacher, and MUN adviser Jamie Crawford, because schools from the U.S. and around the world were invited. At the conference students from J-DHS discussed, within a committee, pressing issues facing a country, which they were previously assigned to represent, with students from these other schools. “Our students discuss issues like hunger, access to education, and the social, economic, and humanitarian issues that are going on worldwide,” said Ms. Crawford. The United Nations has created committees to solve these problems with groups like World Health Organization and the United Childrens Fund, and the student run committees mimic them, said J-DHS’s social studies teacher and MUN adviser Donna Oppedisano. “I represented Pakistan In the Inner Intelligence Organization” said junior Sargon Bebla.
Within each committee students were scored by a board of college students on their participation and how accurately they represented their assigned country’s view on issues. Along with Bebla, J-DHS’s sophomores Tyler Gabriel, Jeff Gabriel and Andrew Barclay, as well as, junior Dan McGann, and senior Amanda Mikesell all earned recognition. Jeff Gabriel, Bebla, and Mikesell all earned honorable mentions, while Barkley earned an outstanding recognition, and McGann earned a verbal commendation ”It felt great to win. It was an international conference, and the competition was fierce, so it was an honor to receive recognition,” said Mikesell. This was the first time that the international conference has been held at Columbia University. “ We have been competing in the international conferences for the past three years, but they have been at Cornell University and in Boston,” said Ms. Oppedisano.
Mikesell’s description of the level of competition was not an exaggeration. Over 700 students from across the world attended the conference this year, according to Ms. Oppedisano. For being one of the few public schools to compete in the conference, Ms. Oppedisano thought the students’ performance was “incredible.”
According to Bebla, a lot of practice goes into earning recognition in an international conference. For each conference they must prepare to represent a different country, and participate in a different committee. So, MUN students meet twice a week in Ms. Oppedisano’s room for practice, according to Bebla, and members study very hard. Students have been meeting in this club since the first weeks of school, and have competed in three conferences prior to Columbia. At practices, students collaborate on ideas and positions, so although individuals win recognition, each recognition won is a total team effort.
On March 6 and 7, J-DHS attended the MUN association of Rochester’s conference held at St. John Fisher College, where J-DHS earned 14 recognitions, had 41 percent of the team earn recognition, took home the title of best delegation overall, and won best delegation per capita. “We have won best delegation per capita before, but this time we won best delegation overall,” said J-DHS senior and MUN president Tal Freiden
Columbia University and Cornell University are some of the schools which J-DHS’s MUN students attend after graduation. In the past five years MUN has graduated two Harvard students as well as one Cornell student, according to Mikesell. “MUN is very prestigious,” said Gabriel, “and it paints you in a good light to colleges, as a hard worker.” Students in MUN use the skills they use in the club as a means to an end, which is to find success in the classroom.
Freiden has been a backbone of MUN since its humble beginnings. From eight members to 84, Frieden has seen the club grow in size and popularity. “As a senior, personally, this was the best way to end my career,” said Freiden.