By Gabriel McGuire ’24
Mercersburg Academy’s Model UN performance group activity (PGA) sent a delegation of six students to participate in the Columbia Model United Nations Conference and Exposition (CMUNCE) competition January 11 to 14 at Columbia University in New York City.
The delegates, representing the secretariat, or leadership of Mercersburg’s program, engaged in discussions to solve varying crises from the perspective of their individual character. While some committees were rooted in history, such as Gabriel McGuire ’24’s committee, “The Rise of the Roman Republic,” others placed competitors in a fictional setting, like Zoe Duffy ’26’s “The 75th Hunger Games: The Mockingjay Alliance.”
This trip served as a developmental experience for the secretariat. Two factors—running the PGA and learning while competing—helped the group better understand factors that make for strong competitors. The secretariat brought this back to share with Mercersburg’s larger program.
For Zoe Shykind ’24, the experience was very formative: “I participated in a crisis (simulation) at CMUNCE, and was granted the opportunity to hone in my skills as a delegate, specifically in terms of adaptability, negotiation, and compromising with those who hold opposing directives and motivations. I was excited to get back to Mercersburg and teach our newer delegates what I had learned over the weekend. I plan to introduce more activities that encourage delegates to work collaboratively, such as unmoderated caucus practices and draft-resolution writing,” said Shykind.
After returning to campus, the PGA pursued simulated unmoderated caucuses where they represented leaders on the Mercersburg campus in solving fictional school crises.
For some, the trip helped to make clear the expectations of a strong delegate.
“I think it made me reconsider how much work we have to do, considering public speaking and other very rudimentary things,” said Kevin Hang ’24. Experiencing the high level of debate on Columbia University’s campus created that opportunity.
With the expectations made clear by this experience, Mercersburg’s secretariat has led the charge in training the larger program for their upcoming competition at Georgetown’s NAIMUN conference in mid-February.
Out of the six committees in which the delegation participated, McGuire and Tahir Hasanov ’25 were selected to receive awards for their work during the sessions. McGuire won the best delegate award, and Hasnov received the verbal commendation award. Mercersburg’s secretariat can walk away knowing that they grew from the experience.
Pictured: Students who participated in the competition include, from left, Tahir Hasanov ’25, Abi Bam ’24, Gabriel McGuire ’24, Kevin Hang ’24, Zoe Duffy ’26, and Zoe Shykind ’24.