On-Campus Model UN Conference Held April 24

Friday, April 22, 2022
Students participate in the Model UN Conference.

Mercersburg Academy hosted its second annual in-school Model United Nations Conference Sunday, April 24. Bob Hollis ’24 was named Best Delegate, Gabe McGuire ’24 and Maddy Lusser ’24 were named Outstanding Delegates, and Ruby Shang ’24 received a verbal commendation. Model UN is a simulation of governmental and international politics, with students assuming the roles of specific political figures, nations, or organizations (real or imagined).

“It was open to [students with no Model UN experience] and to people who have a lot of experience–that’s the whole idea of the conference,” says Pere Cabus Carrera ’23, who was one of 10 members of the Model UN performance group activity planning the event (which was also known as a Crisis conference).

Set in 2057, the Crisis conference focused on nuclear de-escalation and global warming. “We were brainstorming, and we knew we wanted to set the conference in the future,” Cabus Carrera says. “Since climate change is a very prominent topic when we look at the future, we wanted to try to balance that with something else.”

Crisis Director Kevin Hang ’24 says, “Climate change [in the world of the conference] is causing flooding, and a bunch of borders have been affected, namely Micronesia and Japan.” However, the crisis is not purely environmental. “Because Japan is losing a lot of territory, there are rumors that it’s going to invade China, which is why nuclear talks are so tense,” says Cabus Carrera. 

“For nuclear de-escalation, we’re trying to see how the world can continue if nuclear threats do escalate in the future,” says Hang. “We wanted to keep it fictional so that delegates could have the power to do whatever they wanted to do, but at the same time have it still be somewhat relevant and realistic.” 

There are two major types of committees in Model UN: General Assembly (GA) and Crisis. General Assembly functions more like an actual United Nations committee session: each person is the delegate of a country, and the goal of the committee is to solve a real-world problem. In Crisis, however, the world is sometimes historical or futuristic, and debates and resolutions are far more fast-paced. The biggest difference between GA and Crisis is the “backroom,” which is a team of staff that delegates can send notes to in order to secretly take actions that could change the course of the story. 

Students in the backroom during the Model UN Conference

Last year, the conference was a GA, but this year, the Model UN PGA chose a Crisis. “We wanted to do a Crisis because it’s just more fun,” Cabus Carrera says. Hang agrees, adding, “I really like Crisis because you get to see the real-time effects of your actions. It’s not like General Assembly where we come to an agreement, but we don’t know how it actually pans out.”

Cabus Carrera has participated in conferences before, but this was his first time on the staff. Prior to the conference, he shared, “I don’t really know if anything’s different. Since I’m in the front, I don’t think I’ll know until I actually get up there. That will be scary, of course, but I think it’ll be really fun.”

Hang shared a similar sentiment about the backroom prior to the event. “For backroom, for me at least, there’s a very prevalent sense of dread. Someone might ask a question that I don’t know the answer to during a crisis update, and I might not be prepared for everything that the delegates put up to me,” he said. “But I never realized how much planning went into this. I recognized that an insane amount of planning went into NAIMUN [the North American Invitational Model United Nations conference, which the group attended in February in Washington, D.C.], but I didn’t realize that it was this much.”

In addition to Cabus Carrera and Hang, other students helping to plan the conference included Arianna Campi ’22, Leonardo Dunn ’23, Cindy Jiang ’24, Olatz Marques Saralegui ’23, Maia Somma ’24, Minh Tran ’23, Leah Willis ’24, and Joe Zimmerman ’22. Justine O’Connell, director of global programs and initiatives, serves as the faculty adviser for Model UN.

Read more about last year’s inaugural Model UN Conference on campus.

For more information on this story, please contact Lee Owen (owenl@mercersburg.edu) in Mercersburg’s Office of Strategic Marketing and Communications.