Stuyvesant Model United Nations Goes to TechMUNC

Stuyvesant’s Model United Nations Team participated in TechMUNC on January 4, 2020.

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By Anais Delfau

Stuyvesant’s Model United Nations Team (StuyMUN) participated in TechMUNC, an annual conference hosted by the MUN team at Brooklyn Technical High School. A team of 35 delegates was selected to participate, with several students receiving awards and honorable mentions. This is one of the several conferences that StuyMUN participates in over the course of its season from October to May.

The essence of StuyMUN and its objectives are similar to that of the real United Nations (UN). The members of the club, who are called delegates, usually embody an ambassador of a nation they are assigned, and represent their nation’s intentions and agendas. At competitions and conferences, delegates from different MUN teams debate global policy issues that the real UN discusses and come up with workable solutions to these global problems. An extensive amount of research and preparation is done prior to the conference.

The team is run by a leadership board that consists of seniors Ahmed Sultan, Max Goldstein, Joseph Yousef, Alexander Gattegno, and Vishwaa Sofat. Sultan, Goldstein, and Yousef are Secretary-Generals, whereas Gattegno and Sofat are Under-Secretary-Generals.

The delegates represented various committees at TechMUNC, which can be categorized into Crisis Committees and General Committees. Crisis Committees include Red World, Metropolitan Transit Authority, and Security Council: Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. General Committees included Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Disarmament and International Security Committee, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, World Health Organization, and the New York City Council.

The team had a strong performance and presence at the conference. Various accolades were awarded to several delegates. “Best Delegate” was awarded to senior Frank Yang and junior Asif Sattar. “Outstanding Delegate” was awarded to senior Ahmed Hussein, sophomore Maya Dunayer, and freshman Ethan Wong. “Honorable Mention” was awarded to freshmen Julia Williams, Nina Paolini-Rota, and Rania Zaki, and sophomores James Lee, Lina Khamze, and Ian Graham.

TechMUNC was also a rewarding experience for some students. “I was representing Belgium, and the topic was Uighur Muslims in China. I was on the Security Council, and that’s the only committee that’s allowed to use force. It went a little off-the-rails, but it [ended up] being very interesting. This type of Model UN [committee] is a crisis type, which [means] that instead of just debating, you can actually make things happen. It’s almost like a game and helps you to think on your feet,” Graham said.

The relationship between StuyMUN and TechMUN, Brooklyn Tech’s Model UN team, is a unique one built on camaraderie and collaboration, as StuyMUN has supported TechMUN from the beginning. StuyMUN participated in TechMUN’s inaugural conference last year and has continued to show their support by participating again this year.

StuyMUN has also provided support through miniMUNC, which is a training conference that StuyMUN hosts. As a result, TechMUN has participated and gained a lot of exposure to MUN. “There's a lot of friendliness between our two schools because our training conference, miniMUNC, which we held the second version of this year as well, was basically all of TechMUNC's first experience in a Model UN conference in a long time, so they kind of had their start with us. So we obviously have that kind of bond. They've always been gracious with us. It was a well-run conference,” Sultan said.

In order to prepare for upcoming conferences, MUN members research their topics in addition to reading a given background guide, which can range from 15 to 30 pages long. Dunayer prepares for her upcoming conferences by reading many articles on the Works Cited page of different websites, combining them into one binder, and typing up a plan for herself. “Model UN is what you put into it. If you don't put in the time to prep, if you don't put in the time to go to the meetings and learn from the juniors and seniors, you're not going to get anything out of it,” Dunayer said.

Because StuyMUN is a large organization at Stuyvesant with over 100 members, only some members are able to participate at each conference. “[Members] apply, and then based on their performance in meetings and in previous conferences, [the board members] pick the people we think would make a good team,” Sultan said.

Despite this, StuyMUN emphasizes supporting their freshmen by allowing them to gain experience through participating in conferences. “Generally, one-third of the people we bring [to overnight conferences] are freshmen. We give novices the ability to prove themselves. That’s the best way to teach. To throw you off the deep end. This gives the freshmen the opportunity to really do the pinnacle of what MUN is and can be,” Gattegno said.

So far, this season has been marked by success and improvement for the team. “Leadership in the past year has greatly improved, numbers have greatly increased, and we’ve also taken more people to conferences. We used to take 30 people to our local conferences, and this year we take about 40. Ten spots [aren’t] a lot, but it means that 10 more people can go to conferences and gain the experience [...],” Sultan said.

Despite the recent successes, communication throughout the team can still be improved. “We don’t have tryouts, so some people will come in later during the year. We’re open to those people, but it’s hard sometimes to get everyone on the same page, so communication between leadership and members is something to be working toward,” Sultan said.

MUN’s teamwork and collaboration evoke a sense of community and family. “Model UN creates a stronger bond between all its members. It’s just a really good experience because you get to know people really well, and during that entire time, there’s this sense of personal growth,” Sultan said.

In addition, MUN provides members with an opportunity to foster new relationships. Freshman Manolee Merlet enjoys MUN because she has formed friendships with other members of the team. “I really like all the people I’ve met through MUN, because a lot of them I don’t really have any classes with but I’m still really close to them because of going to conferences with them and going to meetings,” Merlet said.

MUN has also received support from their faculty advisors who help ensure that everything goes smoothly. “[We would like to give] a brief shoutout to our faculty advisor [Topher] Mykolyk for bringing something really great to the team. He’s always there for us,” Gattegno said.

Participating in MUN allows students to be more aware of current issues. “Because committees are based off current events, you go in and research a lot about a certain topic so you become really knowledgeable on it, and you have that knowledge even outside the conference,” Williams said.

Because MUN mimics real-life situations, it is, by design, a learning experience. “For me, [MUN] is about the fierce competition. It’s not just public speaking, but it’s also researching, networking. It’s all of these skills that are hugely important, and MUN gives you a chance to work on them, hone them, and use them in a professional setting,” Gattegno said.

Attending conferences is also a valuable and enjoyable experience beyond receiving awards. “They make it a very good learning experience. You’re always learning to improve. Everyone is there to help you. Yes, it is a competition, you’re going for awards, but that’s never the first thing on someone’s mind,” freshman Inour Awad said. “It’s always the main purpose to have fun, make some friends, do what you want to do, and if you end up with an award, you have an award.”

Gattegno believes that the team reflects the hardworking nature that is representative of the school’s culture. “I do think that the [Stuyvesant] culture of wanting to improve and wanting to give 100 percent is something that carries over to our team. It’s been so good and successful because people care. It’s made me grateful that I’ve got to spend four years of my life with these wonderful people,” he said.