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Students Tackle World Affairs at Model UN Conference

Mercersburg Academy students who are part of the school’s Model UN program participated in the Columbia Model United Nations Conference and Exposition (CMUNCE) January 12-15 in New York City.

During the conference, students used critical thinking, public speaking, and debate skills in conjunction with collaboration, active listening, and resilience in order to arrive at resolutions, said faculty member Justine O’Connell, director of global initiatives and adviser to Mercersburg’s Model UN.

“What I don't think many people understand about Model UN is that it is more than understanding world affairs, it's about being able to think on your feet, speak publicly, and present information in a clear and concise way,” O’Connell said.

Students on the trip included Secretary General Pere Cabus Carrera ’23 (Lleida, Spain), Director of Finance Olatz Marques Saralegui ’23 (Madrid, Spain), Director of Communications Dorothy Skuba Gray ’23 (New Orleans, LA), Head Delegates Gabe McGuire ’24 (Mercersburg, PA) and Kevin Hang ’24 (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam), and Model United Nations member Zoe Duffy '26 (Mercersburg, PA).

Cabús Carrera won a Verbal Commendation for his portrayal of Capac Yupanqui - Tawantinsuyu: Incan Civil War and Spanish Conquest, 1535.

Duffy and Marques Saralegui won Best Delegate for representing Portugal in the Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee (SOCHUM) Double Delegation.

The team won Best Small Delegation.

O’Connell noted that this year was the first time the group has attended CMUNCE since 2020. Prior to the trip, O’Connell noted that this would also be the first time she attended CMUNCE.

The conference, which was held at Columbia University’s Morningside Heights Campus, gave students the opportunity to participate in crisis-style Model UN committees, which challenged delegates to think quickly and creatively in response to scenarios and events, according to the conference website,

Symposiums focused on a variety of topics, ranging from post-MUN experiences to discussions of international issues with Columbia professors and leading scholars in the field of international relations. This year’s highlight included conversations with experts in the field of cybersecurity and nuclear disarmament.

Fourteen Model UN students will attend the North American Invitational Model United Nations (NAIMUN) conference hosted by Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., February 16-19. Learn more about last year’s conference here.

Later this year, Model UN Secretariat members hope to organize an on-campus conference for the school community.