Students dressed to the nines mill around the school in suits and other business wear. The anticipation and excitement is palpable as members from the same school cluster together, reviewing last minute reminders. The competitors eye each other, trying to sense each other’s level of preparation and confidence.
On Oct. 28, the WHS Model United Nations (MUN) team hosted their first conference here. Participants included students from various schools in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area, with a total of 250 MUN enthusiasts. Only 50 of the participants were those on the team, so there was a large turnout. Anyone who wanted to attend was able to, and the conference was an opportunity for new members to gain experience and train for the upcoming collegiate conferences that span four days and are held at the nation’s leading universities. “Before we had put on a conference with contributions from all of Montgomery County, but this time it was all Hamzah and I,” MUN co-president senior Shazia Ahmed said. “We had to invest a lot of time into it and spent approximately 30 hours on Google Drive just doing assignments and also organizing with Mr. Hill, Mrs. Buckingham and Mr. Jacobs.”
The conference day started with registration, which was followed by the opening ceremony. MUN co-president Hamzah Shah welcomed the participants with a speech and then dismissed them to their committee rooms. The committees were each centered around a specific topic with participants acting as delegates representing a country’s view on the topic. Participants were previously assigned to their specific committees and told what country they would be representing.
A few of the committee topics included disarmament and national security, cyber warfare, NATO and how to deal with World War II criminals. “Hearing all the positive feedback from both Wootton delegates and those from other schools was extremely rewarding, not only because it was personally fulfilling, but more so because of what it means for the future,” senior Hamzah Shah said. “I hope in the years to come WHS MUN continues to grow and serve as a platform through which students across the DMV can come together and learn more about pressing international issues and how foreign policy affects our daily lives.”
Participants engaged in debates about what the best solution to the committee topic was. The delegates gave speeches, hoping to convince other delegates to support their country’s favored solution. After the debate section of the conference there was a transition time where delegates who favored similar solutions formed a group within their committee and proceeded to write a draft resolution on the topic. Sometimes groups merged to work on one paper, seeking to add to their resolution and refine their proposed resolution.
Each group then presented their paper to the rest of the committee where a reading and Q&A took place before the final vote, determining which resolution(s) passed with the committee’s approval. “The conference was an example of exceptional student leadership,” MUN sponsor Amy Buckingham said. “It was organized, planned and run by students. Wootton students planned and executed every aspect of the event with precision. I am very proud.”
At the end of the conference day, awards were given to participants whose performance was particularly outstanding. There were four types of awards participants could receive: verbal commendation, honorable mention, outstanding delegate and best delegate. The awards were determined by the WHS MUN leadership. Each committee had a committee chair that was a WHS MUN member, since they were hosts to the conference.
Shah and Ahmed also went around from committee to committee during the conference to get a feel for which participants were most noteworthy. “We put in all this time to ensure that WHS MUN would be as successful as possible with minimal issues, while still simulating a collegiate conference so that delegates from our school and other schools could have the best experience possible,” Ahmed said.