Model UN Presentation

Now in its second year, the Besant Hill Model United Nations project offers students an opportunity to engage with adolescents from around the world in an annual conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Ivy League Model United Nations Conference is organized and executed by students of the University of Pennsylvania, with over 100 domestic and international high schools in attendance. This year’s conference was attended by a delegation of 11 students. The Besant Hill Delegation represented the West African nation of Côte d’Ivoire in the geopolitical simulation at the Marriott Downtown in Philadelphia from January 26-29, 2017.

Model United Nations is a geopolitical simulation activity designed to teach necessary collaborative skills to future diplomats, decision-makers, reformers, and activists. Competitive high schools throughout the world offer this program as an avenue for students to develop confidence, practice public-speaking, and facilitate respectful debate, as well as to teach the complex functioning of the United Nations. Participants also develop research and writing skills in drafting position papers to be introduced and discussed during the conference. We are proud to offer this program at Besant Hill, as it underscores our commitment to global citizenship and reinforces many of the academic and social habits we value.

In the months prior to the conference, head delegates Cate Steward ‘17 and Yiyi Zeng ‘17 prepared the delegation with workshops on the organization and functions of the United Nations, the culture and economy of Côte d’Ivoire, the parliamentary practices of the conference itself, and the definition of “Western business attire.”

Over their winter holidays, each BHS delegate prepared two well-researched position papers on the topics to be discussed in their assigned committees. BHS had delegates assigned to committees that included the United Nations Population Fund, the Special Political and Decolonization Committee, and the International Labor Organization. Delegate Ryan Wang ‘18 represented Côte d’Ivoire at the World Health Organization committee meetings. He researched attacks on healthcare workers in war zones as well as the effects of pollution on public health in the developing world.

In addition to the conference, we enjoyed our time in Philadelphia with a memorable visit to the National Constitution Center and a walking tour of the nearby Independence Hall. Many of our delegates, including Samantha Zhou ‘18 and Prithraj Punia ‘18, are also students in Advanced Placement United States History, so these sites of American historical pertinence proved relevant to their coursework back on campus.

We made sure to pencil in time for pure enjoyment as well: Nicolas Rosen ‘19 and Eli Meyer ‘19 enjoyed ice skating at City Hall with conference delegates, and we all tested our bowling skills at South Bowl to celebrate Chinese New Year. Who would have known that Clay Weisberg ‘18 is such an excellent bowler?!

On the last day of our time back east, we made a day trip to Washington, DC for a private tour of the National Archives by special assistant to the archivist Sam Anthony and his colleague, curator Christine Blackerby. After we visited the original Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, and Bill of Rights, Ms. Blackerby guided us through her exhibit titled “Amending America.”

While in the nation’s capital, we also visited the National Museum of the American Indian, the National Air and Space Museum, and the Smithsonian National Museum of National History before an early evening walking tour of numerous monuments. As a native of the DC area, I enjoyed sharing my favorite monument with the students at sunset: the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. We then walked through both the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial before concluding our very busy day at the Lincoln Memorial. Under the starry sky, we all enjoyed the sight of the Washington Monument in the Reflecting Pool.

After this whirlwind day in Washington, DC, the BHS Delegation returned safely to campus on January 31. Exhausted but energized, our delegation of global citizens is already thinking about next year!