Behind conference doors

Students participate in annual Model UN conference

Photo: Mrs. Emily Philpott
Model UN students pose for a photo. St. George's Model UN students participated in the annual conference the weekend of Nov. 19.

Thirty five upper school students from St. George’s participated in the Model United Nations conference held at the Embassy Suites hotel in Murfreesboro, Tenn. the weekend of Nov. 19-20.

Each fall, over 800 high school students from Tennessee learn about the real world operations of the United Nations by reenacting their activities.

According to the YMCA Model United Nations website, most students form delegations and represent countries in the General Assembly by preparing and debating resolutions that cover a variety of international concerns. Some students are able to hold positions in the Secretariat, Security Council, International Court of Justice and the Department of Public Information.

St. George’s made its mark with students receiving awards and recognition for their tremendous work at the conference. Emily Persons won “Outstanding Delegate” while Emma Pounders was re-elected as Video Press Producer. As participants of the General Assembly, Bennett Matson, Ellie Franklin and Annika Conlee had their resolutions passed.

Mrs. Emily Philpott, AP World History and AP Psychology teacher, serves as the advisor for Model UN at St. George’s. Mrs. Philpott participated in Model UN when she was in high school, so she has a first-hand experience with the program.

“It’s a great experience to gain knowledge of the world around you and people around you. I also think it’s a great learning experience to hang out with people who may have different beliefs or ideas than you but still be able to get along with them,” Mrs. Philpott said. “It’s a great way to work on public speaking, as well, because students are in front of a microphone when they speak at this conference, so it teaches a lot of valuable skills not just for high school.”

Junior Bennett Matson has been apart of Model UN since middle school, and this year, he participated in the General Assembly, representing the southeastern country of Timor-Leste. Matson enjoys the memories he makes at each conference since they hold a deeper meaning to him now.

“When I think of Model UN, I think of all the good memories I had with it: all of my friends, all the times that me and Connor [Lambert] got roasted by a bunch of people smarter than us and all the awkward dances that were really fun,” Matson said. “It’s no longer just a conference, it’s a tradition to me.”

Senior Mimi McCarroll held the Secretariat position this year, where she and others worked closely with the Secretary General to create a packet of the best resolutions at the conference. This was a new role for McCarroll, yet she had fun doing so.

“My favorite thing about this past conference was probably being on secretariat with Lauren Marotta, and we stayed up until 3 a.m. trying to help the Security Council solve a crisis,” McCarroll said. “This year, we came up with a crisis in the South China Sea about the land dispute that’s going on right now. I think the crisis was too difficult this year because the resolution that they wrote pretty much says that they need to solve it at a later time, but it was still a lot of fun.”

Students that participate in Model UN are tasked to come up with feasible solutions for international issues, yet it may be difficult for them to explore those different perspectives, according to Mrs. Philpott.

“It is some prep work on the student’s part, and it may be challenging for them to take on the role of another country because the debate that they are doing is not their own ideas and perspectives,” Mrs. Philpott said. “It is what they think their country will support, so I think it’s challenging for students to step out of their own shoes and look at something from another perspective and to debate as if they’re not from the United States of America but the country they’re representing.”

Model UN provides students the opportunity to meet new people, hone valuable life skills, see the world from a different view and become aware of international issues.

“When you get out there and talk to people about the problems you learned, it makes you want to get informed. We’re the solution in the world because it’s nobody else who can do it right now,” Matson said. “It makes you want to get informed and make a difference.”