In anticipation of the international Model UN conference in January at the University of Pennsylvania, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy Upper School students, under the guidance of faculty advisors James Spagnoletti and Matt Norcini, hosted a smaller Model UN conference at SCH Academy on Saturday, Nov. 1.
Known as SCHMUNC (SCH Model United Nations Conference), the “mini-conference” involved more than 50 students from SCH, Haverford School and Germantown Friends School.
Each student was assigned a country to research and represent on the day of the conference. During the day, the countries met as a General Assembly to debate, negotiate behind the scenes, and advocate for their resolution to a world problem. Students wrote papers reflecting their country’s position on the problem and presented them before the General Assembly. At the end, the assembly voted on which position paper to accept. This year the global problem the students chose was ISIS.
“Model UN is really a lot of fun,” said SCH junior Smith Hambrose, one of the SCHMUNC organizers in charge of communications with the other schools and assigning country roles.
“It’s fun to put your personal opinions aside and look at an issue through the lens of someone else.”
This year she and her fellow SCH conference heads – seniors Elyas Tecle, Matt Miller and Garrison Xian and juniors Anab Aidid, Brooke Hanraty and Frankie Reitmeyer – helped oversee the event and choose award winners in various categories.
While the topic was certainly timely, said Spagnoletti, it turned out there wasn’t much debate on the problem.
“There was general agreement on the need to eradicate the terrorist group; the question was how. Last year the students chose the topic of Syria, which generated a greater diversity of perspectives,” he said.
In January, approximately 40 students from SCH will attend the annual Ivy League Model UN event at Penn, which typically draws around 3,000 people. There, the students will have an opportunity to participate on special committees examining different aspects of this year’s issue, such as health, defense, and economics.
“Model UN is a lot of work but it’s a different kind of work from what we do in school,” Hambrose said. “We’re not graded by a teacher. What you get out of the experience is based on how much you’re willing to put into it.”