On the weekend of January 9-11, 2015, students from Westfield High School (WHS) in Westfield, New Jersey shared an enriching experience of politics, discussion, and debate at the annual YMCA Model United Nations (MUN) conference in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
WHS’s MUN club motto boasts that “MUN is fun!” Students collaborate in committees with friends and are exposed to several perspectives through which they develop leadership, problem solving, and communication skills. The conference also helps create a beneficial environment in which students meet new peers and learn to work together effectively while making important decisions.
To prepare for the conference, members of the MUN club carefully researched their assigned countries and worked together to create resolutions that would improve and enhance quality of life.
“We aim to reach out and bring various parts of the community together through service projects, which is an incredible experience,” Bryanna Reinhardt, a junior at WHS and one of next year’s MUN student leaders, told JSR.
Member Grace Brindle, who represented Brazil at the conference and introduced a unanimously-passed resolution on nuclear waste disposal, stated, “There is so much death and destruction in the world today and the entire conference really gives [me] so much hope in humanity.”
The MUN conference was as physically demanding as it was fun. Starting from the two-hour bus ride at 6 am Friday morning, MUN participants rarely had time for a break the entire weekend.
Olivia Kuzman, a sophomore at WHS, said, “The conference really teaches you hard work and dedication because of the amount of work you have to put into it.”
At her second MUN conference this year, Kuzman represented Canada and debated important topics such as food security, drug trafficking, and the rights of prisoners and combatants.
The students’ hard work and efforts lead to a final research paper that incorporated all the research, debates, and the conclusions of the conference.
All work aside, students enjoyed the community of concerned, intelligent peers earnestly seeking solutions to the world’s problems.
“Everyone wants you to succeed, which is why I find it so amazing. The program itself has incredible values that teach everyone to open their eyes,” Kuzman described, adding that she wished her school environment could be so positive and supporting.
Reinhardt recalled, “One girl in our committee lost her grandmother on the Thursday before, but she still went to MUN. She admitted this on the last day during reflections and told us we made her weekend unforgettable.”
She added, “ I want to foster the same sense of community [in the club] next year as student leader.”
Members of WHS’s MUN club ended their eventful weekend with a dance and a long car ride home remembering the hard work, busy schedules, and fun they shared together.