Students Take Part in Columbia University Model UN

Fourteen Mercersburg students spent four days at Columbia University in New York City January 17-20 for the 18th-annual Columbia Model United Nations Conference and Exposition (CMUNCE XVIII). The event was held on Columbia’s campus in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan.
Watch a short video recap of the trip.

Model UN is a simulation of governmental and international politics, with students assuming the roles of specific political figures, nations, or organizations. CMUNCE is one of the premiere Model UN events in the world—owing to its location in the nation’s largest metropolis, its venue at one of the top U.S. universities, and its format. 100 percent of Columbia’s Model UN committees are so-called “crisis committees,” meaning that deliberations between student delegates are occasionally interrupted by announcements of fictional “breaking news” events. These developments force participants to think on their feet and often adjust the positions and arguments they have prepared as part of their research.

Participants interacted with, debated with, and worked alongside student attendees from all corners of the globe; more than 750 high-school students from six continents took part.

Three Mercersburg student delegates earned verbal commendations: Jack Kothari ’20, who played the role of Israeli politician Anat Berko in “The Knesset Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense,” and Hunter Roberts ’19 and Chris Adams ’20, who teamed to represent Poland in “UN Security Council Indo-Pakistan Conflict, 1971.”

This year’s committees covered an extensive variety of topics and time periods, from the Court of Shah Jahan in the year 1628 to President Abraham Lincoln’s Cabinet of the 1860s, all the way to a present-day Brexit session (and even past today, into a hypothetical future envisioning a post-Dalai Lama Tibet in 2025 and a succession crisis in Turkey, circa 2030).

“It’s an intense but rewarding four days for our students,” says history faculty member and Model UN adviser Allison Stephens, who was on the trip with fellow faculty member and adviser Lee Owen. “The knowledge and experience that the students bring back to their classes and classmates has exponential payback. From my vantage point as a teacher, it is amazing to be present on these occasions as an observer, watching the magic happen.”

Of the 14 students on the trip, seven had previously participated in Model UN events, including Roberts (who attended his fourth Model UN conference in four years), Kothari, Kevin Lee ’20 (a winner of the “Best Delegate” Award for his CMUNCE committee in 2018), Ben Hedstrom ’19,  and Grace Lewis ’20. Two delegates, Maddie Kennedy ’19 and Nick Camargo ’20, had previously taken part while attending previous schools but represented Mercersburg for the first time. Other student delegates participating included Adams, Carmen Martinez ’20, Anabelle Oldham ’20, Chioma Oparaji ’20, Aba Sankah ’20, Riley Wick ’20, and Tom Wu ’20.

More information about the conference can be found at
Founded in 1893 in the heart of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic, Mercersburg is a private, coed, college preparatory boarding school with approximately 435 students (15 percent are day), grades 9-12 and postgraduate.
We offer 170 courses, including AP and Honors, more than $7 million in financial aid, 26 varsity sports, and a state-of-the-art performing and visual arts center.
Located 90 minutes from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, and within easy driving distance of New York City, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.
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