Model U.N. club engages in student-led competitive speaking, debate event at UPenn

Maya Erd, Features Editor

Model UN had a conference from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2 at the Marriott at the University of Pennsylvania. The title is the Ivy League Model United Nations Competition. Students from 37 countries participated.

Students spent months preparing by researching their topic and how it represented their nation. Their topic depends on the committee they are on. “I prepared by researching the background, past U.N. actions, and possible solutions to both of our topics in our committee with respect to my country position,” junior Samaa Zaman said.

The club is sponsored by sociology, psychology and model U.N. teacher Amy Buckingham, who has been the sponsor for five years. “They spent a tremendous amount of time studying background guides, reading information about the countries that they were assigned in order to represent the country’s perspective accurately. They put in so many hours. They role played. They did everything they possibly could to prepare,” Buckingham said.

The conference was student-led, however, Buckingham attended the conference and made sure everyone was safe. She acts as a parent to the students in the club and helps them answer any questions they may have.

Buckingham said being at the conference is harder than being at school because it is their weekend and there is a lot of sitting around when not competing, while having to wear business attire.

The conferences are based on organized debate called moderated caucuses followed by a few unmoderated caucuses where they debate with one another freely.

Junior officer Dylan Safai was in the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the topic of discussion was “providing humanitarian aid to war zones.” He received the outstanding award, which means second place out of the close to 200 delegates.

This experience is not all about the conference itself. When they were not competing, students met friends from other schools, explored the city, toured UPenn and went ice skating. They also met with other delegations, made resolutions, and got food and snacks. “We didn’t have free time,” Zaman said.

Buckingham is a proud sponsor of the club. “Model U.N. is more work than people can possibly imagine. I love seeing all of [my students] on a weekend dressed up in their free time standing around talking about international relation,” she said.