Students lead in familiar directions at Model UN Conference

by Mackey Luffman, HS history department chair & Model USN advisor

A record number of USN High School students participated in the YMCA of Middle Tennessee’s Model United Nations Conference. As usual, they returned to school with several awards, including Outstanding Resolution Awards and Outstanding Statesman Awards, won the quiz bowl competition, and were elected to leadership positions.
Some 68 High School students traveled to Murfreesboro last weekend to participate in the YMCA of Middle Tennessee’s Model United Nations Conference, sponsored by the Center for Civic Engagement. USN has been making an annual pilgrimage to this conference for decades.

At the conference, students put their research on international issues into action and present resolutions that build a consensus about how to solve international problems. Students represent the member nations of the United Nations and engage in spirited debates on the wide variety of resolutions presented to the General Assembly. The storage boxes of many USN alumni are full of awards earned at this conference, and this year the next avatars of diplomacy upheld USN’s tradition of excellence.

Leading the way was Claire Kim ’20, who had been elected by the previous year’s conference to serve as a General Assembly liaison tasked with coordinating the efforts of other student officers to make sure the behind-the-scenes work of the General Assembly got done. Students and faculty advisors alike were impressed by the leadership and efficiency she brought to the job.

A significant number of USN students participated in the International Court of Justice component of the conference. In the ICJ, students work in pairs as lawyers representing countries that have asked the ICJ to arbitrate treaty disputes according to international legal standards. Nicholas Key '20, Wei Dai '20, Jason Kuchtey '20, and Liam Savona ’20, formed lawyer teams in the ICJ to argue a maritime border dispute between Indonesia and Malaysia. Key and Dai used their prior experience to go undefeated in their case presentations to qualify for the Final Case, a short-notice case for which the students have to prepare in just a few hours to present a country’s argument in a previously unknown dispute. Key and Dai lost a close decision, but found an excellent consolation prize when their peers in the ICJ elected them both to be Associate Justices on next year’s ICJ bench.

In the Security Council, Yoshi D’Souza ’20 was selected to represent Bolivia based on the strength of his application. While there, D’Souza not only participated in debate on the Security Council resolutions; he also assisted General Assembly delegates invited to the Security Council to discuss their resolutions as they pertained to security issues and the jurisdiction of the Security Council. For his efforts in the Security Council, its members elected D’Souza to be the President of the Security Council at next year’s conference.

Most of the USN students represented countries in the General Assembly. MUN veterans Caroline Sigmund ’19, Grace Rieniets ’19, Daley Hall ’19, and first-timer Ellie Hollahan ’19, represented Romania and won an Outstanding Resolution Award! Jack Watke ’20, Shai Rice ’20, and Campbell Luschen ’20, represented the Netherlands and also won an Outstanding Resolution Award. Luschen was especially busy that weekend, as he left MUN early to go race for USN’s mountain biking team later that afternoon.

A number of other USN delegations had their resolutions ranked highly by their committees and thus presented them to the General Assembly. Those delegations included Zimbabwe, represented by Jake Wolfson ’19, Daniel Jacobs ’19, Evan Rork ’19, and Christopher Corkum ’19; Namibia, represented by Thomas Luschen ’22, Tate Keular ’22, Isaac Chomsky ’22, and Lucy Babat ’22 at their first conference; Nepal, represented by Esha Karam ’21, Lydia West ’21, and Erika Galli ’21; Iran, represented by Langdon Skarda ’21, Ethan Li ’21, and Niles Clancy ’21; the Democratic Republic of the Congo, represented by Zoe Light ’19, Aasha Zinke ’20, and Jillian Horton ’20; Republic of the Congo, represented by Haley Harris ’19, Isha Upender ’19, and Arjun Dasari ’19; Kenya, represented by Lauren French ’21, Erica Friedman ’21, and Neha Saggi ’21; finally, Morocco was represented by Trevor Zou ’20, Pelham Bergesen ’20, Lewis Walker ’20, and Gideon Mosse ’20. That’s a lot of resolutions to make the docket.
Individual students in the General Assembly were recognized for their participation in debate. Rieniets, French, and Harris were all nominated for Outstanding Statesman Awards, as were newcomers Mayowa Kassim ’21, Greta Li ’22, and MUN veteran Michael Gordon ’21. Sigmund and Clancy each one an Outstanding Statesman award for their efforts.

The icing on the cake was USN’s team in the “World Cup” at MUN, which is a quiz bowl competition. This year’s team of Evan Rork ’19, Grace Rieniets ’19, Michael Gordon ’21, and Nicholas Beem ’21 won the championship in fine style, which makes the third out of the past four years that USN has won that competition at the conference.

Finally, the student delegates elect the officers for the next year’s conference. Joining Key, Dai, and D’Souza as officers next year will be Claire Kim and Olivia Rhee, both of whom were elected to be vice presidents of the General Assembly. This is the first time that USN students have been elected as officers in each of the representative components at Model UN and the largest number of elected officers from a single class since the legendary Class of 2015 and its five officers elected across two components. Good times.

Special thanks goes to HS Science Teacher Dawn Matthies for volunteering her weekend as a chaperone.

Students who are interested in participating in the Youth in Government conference, a simulation of Tennessee state government in the spring semester, should contact History Teacher Mackey Luffman as soon as possible.
    • The Netherlands (L-R Shai Rice, Campbell Luschen, Jack Watke) present their award-winning resolution to the General Assembly.

    • Kenya (L-R Erica Friedman, Lauren French, Neha Saggi) after presenting their resolution to the GA.

    • Zimbabwe (L-R Evan Rork, Jake Wolfson, Daniel Jacobs, Christopher Corkum) strain to understand a line of questioning from another delegate.

    • Shai Rice thoughtfully concludes his portion of the presentation of the Netherlands resolution in committee.

    • Congo (L-R Haley Harris, Arjun Dasari, Isha Upender) present their resolution to the GA.

    • Benin (L-R Emma Harris, Wiley Barzelay, Oscar Fox, and Sarah Jacobs) present their resolution in committee.

    • DRC (L-R Zoe Light, Jillian Horton, and Aasha Zinke) before they present their resolution to the GA.

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