By Shonali Palacios ‘19, William Goldberg ‘19, and Maddi Salwen ‘19
"Every club member...collaborated to deliver the best possible GDS Model UN presence."
The co-heads of GDS Model UN reflect on the club's recent successes and preparations for future events.
Shonali Palacios ‘19: This year, when we arrived at Chantilly Model United Nations, I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed. Due to another obligation, I wasn’t able to participate in a committee. Instead, I offered to help Marjorie Brimley, our faculty advisor, keep track of the delegates from GDS. My frustration soon turned to gratitude as I had the exciting opportunity to see all of my friends and classmates in action.
I watched our freshmen hold their own in massive, easy-to-get-lost-in general assemblies. I watched sophomore Alissa Simon speaking in a room full of juniors and seniors with every head turned towards her, and Nathaniel Rosenberg ‘20 deliver a brilliantly worded opening statement to the mock-NBA league office. Lastly, and perhaps most meaningful to me, I saw my co-heads, William Goldberg ‘19 and Maddi Salwen ‘19, partner with newer members and coach them through committee.
William Goldberg ‘19: In Model UN, which operates not unlike the real United Nations, participants debate issues and work in groups to form solution plans, which are then voted on by the committee. This past weekend, 32 of our 85 GDS Model UN club members participated in the CHMUN conference, hosted by Chantilly High School in Virginia. We practice UN simulations weekly, honing students’ public speaking skills, negotiation techniques, and creative problem solving. Students came into the conference this weekend prepared and ready to show off their improved skills! GDS students had the opportunity to participate in notable committees such as the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Google Board of Directors. Others participated in crisis committees, which function differently than normal committees and require fast-paced student interaction and real-time updates from a crisis board.
Maddi Salwen ‘19: I was able to partner with Deyaan Guha ‘22, a ninth grader who was new to Model UN this year, and watch as he gained confidence even within the short two-day conference. As club heads, we do our best to prepare everyone, but there is little we can do during our lunch meeting simulations to replicate the nerve-wracking experience of speaking in committee for the first time and working with delegates who are quick to shut down ideas. And yet, it was gratifying to learn—as GDS kids bombarded me during a lunch break in Chantilly—about all their successes in committee: from speaking in front of a group of 100 strangers, to adding significant clauses to their paper, or to successfully forming and presenting a solution plan.
Shonali Palacios ‘19: Model UN at GDS is about learning to deliver a speech in front of strangers; it's about researching unfamiliar people and places as well as learning from schoolmates—both younger and older than you. Overall, I'd say that Chantilly was a successful conference not only because one in every three of us won awards, but because of the way every club member engaged in committees, spoke eloquently, and—most importantly—collaborated to deliver the best possible GDS Model UN presence.
GDS congratulates all those who participated and commends the following award winners:
Verbal Commendations Ari Benveniste '21 - Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting Dennis Kongoli '20 - International Atomic Energy Agency William Goldberg '19 - International Atomic Energy Agency Emily Axelrod '20 - Senate Committee on the Judiciary
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