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Mercersburg Model UN Students Win Awards at Conference

A delegation of 15 Mercersburg Academy students participated in the North American Invitational Model United Nations (NAIMUN) Conference hosted by Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., from February 15 to 18. 

“The students worked hard during the winter term to prepare for this conference,” said Director of Global Initiatives and Model UN Adviser Justine O’Connell. “We had students perform in a variety of committees, like the general assembly, ECOSOC, and crisis.”

To prepare, students engaged in role-playing scenarios and worked in cohorts to learn strategies for the competition, said Abi Bam ’24, a member of the Secretariat, which is the Model UN student leadership team.

“We did case situation scenarios where if you are stuck in this position, what will you do?” Bam said. “We taught them how to do lobbying, improv speeches, resolution writings, critical thinking.”

The hard work was worth the effort. The Mercersburg delegation award winners included 9th graders who had never been to a Model UN conference. 

“We were teaching the new delegates everything we know, all the strategies,” said Kevin Hang ’24, who is serving as secretary general of the Secretariat this year, his fourth year in the program. “That really paid off.”

Hang noted that the Model UN experience is a true confidence booster.

“As someone who has been introverted and shy all my life, I’ve learned to speak in a way where people believe what I say,” Hang said. “You learn to be 100 percent confident in whatever you are saying.”

In a world that is constantly facing new and urgent crises, a program like Model UN provides students with the opportunity to develop skills like adaptability, collaboration, and preparation, O’Connell said. “They connect with peers from all over the world and work on real-life scenarios. It’s truly an amazing thing to see in action.”

Conference award winners included: 

  • Tristan Paulette ’27 and Robert Crisson ’27 - Double Delegation: Verbal commendation for work in the 27th Special Session of the General Assembly, 2002: World Summit for Children

  • Zoe Duffy ’26 and Zoe Shykind ’24 - Double Delegation: Best Delegates in the Commission on the Status of Women

  • Tahir Hasanov ’25 - Best Delegate, Crisis Committee of the Retracting Radcliffe: Sindh Partition, 1947

  • Gabe McGuire ’25 - Outstanding Delegate, Ad Hoc Committee

  • Mercersburg Academy - Outstanding Small Delegation