Northwestern’s Model UN hosts weekend conference for high school students

Sarah Eberspacher

For four days, the fate of the world fell to high school students, who met in Norris University Center for the seventh annual Northwestern University Model United Nations Conference.

The conference was the NU Model United Nations club’s largest yet, with 419 high school students attending, said Stephanie DeNotto, NUMUN’s president. It began April 8 and ended April 11.

Members of NUMUN’s 60-person student staff planned the event and chaired the student committees.

The staff worked throughout the weekend, both at Norris and after-hours at the Hotel Orrington, 1710 Orrington Ave., and the Hilton Garden Inn, 1818 Maple Ave., where the delegates stayed.

When the event opened for registration in October, high school advisers requested spots for their students and told NUMUN where to place those students from a choice of 13 committees like a General Assembly and a Security Council. Delegates were given details about their chosen committee in advance and were asked to do research about pertinent topics, DeNotto said.

Once at the conference, the delegates had to debate various hypothetical crises with their peers. Dina Jachi, chairwoman of NUMUN’s Security Council, asked her delegates to prepare for issues related to nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. She presented her committee Saturday morning with a fake article published in The New York Times detailing an attack on Iran by Israel.

“Watching their ability to pick up that new information, discuss it and act on it has been really impressive,” the Weinberg senior said. “I want them to have fun with this but also be engaged and think more about current events.”

On Sunday, NUMUN staff woke participants up at midnight, told them to put their clothes back on and get ready for a crisis session. Debate following the announcement lasted from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.

Despite the sleep deprivation, Isaac Green, 18, from the Latin School of Chicago, said the experience had been a good one.

“The staff has been awesome,” he said. “In terms of the conference, this has been a good way to give me a new perspective on politics and world events.”

The conference is intended as both a forum for debate from students with an interest in international politics, as well as a place to teach the delegates more about how international issues are solved, DeNotto said.

“Delegates have the opportunity to learn a little bit about international affairs and how they would address them,” the Weinberg senior said. “Then they get a taste of Northwestern-they go on the tour, meet students through the staff and see what college is all about. That combination is what makes this conference so great.”

Advisers from the participating schools were highly complimentary of the conference, she said.

“A few of the advisers from high schools new to the conference this year have said they’re going to continue coming to our conference instead of the University of Chicago’s,” she said. “I know how much NU students would love to hear that.”

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