MUHS students join model UN debates

MIDDLEBURY — Last weekend, 10 students from Middlebury Union High School joined over 500 teenagers from 35 different schools in a three-day Model United Nations conference run by Dartmouth College. In Model United Nations, students act as diplomats and negotiators from different countries, coming together in a simulated effort to solve world problems. MUHS students participated in a variety of committees, and took home two awards.
James Lincoln, representing Zimbabwe, worked with the delegates from Iran and China to advocate for their solution to the current Syrian civil war. For his efforts, Lincoln earned an Honorable Mention in the Disarmament and International Security Committee. Of his first “away” Model UN conference, Lincoln said, “The experience is an unforgettable one, and I learned a lot from fellow delegates.”
Adam Joselson took the role of master of the interior in the Council of Sparta, in a Historical Joint Crisis in which Spartans, Athenians and Persians each attempted to control the outcome of the Peloponnesian Wars. In his position paper, Joselson argued that “the power and greed of Athens is nothing when compared to that of Persia. United, we could defeat Persia in all her might, but Athens has divided Greece. … We cannot possibly fight both enemies and still hope to win, brave as our men are. We simply do not have the resources to fight both and will be destroyed if we try. But let us also not forget our own allies, for we do not stand entirely alone. Corinth, Thebes, Syracuse and almost the entirety of the Peloponnesus stand at our back. Whatever the outcome of this conflict, we shall be forever remembered, whether as the last defenders of independence to stand up to Athens, or as glorious unifiers of Hellas.” Joselson, a sophomore,  was awarded Best Position Paper in his committee.
The Currrent Joint Crisis Committee dealt with a reality-based and rapidly unfolding scenario of North Korean belligerance. Elias Wyncoop as secretary of transortation in the United States cabinet, Sonia Howlett as minister of health and wellness in the Chinese politburo, and Emily Fleming as minister of foreign affairs and trade in the South Korean cabinet, contributed to efforts to defuse the rapidly rising tensions on the Korean peninsula. Wyncoop said, “I found it amazingly fun and challenging, with the right balance of seriousness and humor.” Howlett said, “I really enjoyed DartMUN this year, especially being on the crisis committee. It was very exciting and fast-paced. And Fleming said, “I really liked the diversity of the people involved; the girl who sat next to me for two of the days (the minister of justice) was from China.”
The majority of MUHS students were assigned to represent Zimbabwe in various committees. Sophomore Nathan Cobb represented Zimbabwe in UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), where he advocated for increased rights for Palestinians. He said, “All students should feel the invigorating sensation of standing in front of 60 people and describing your country’s particular position.” Marcelo Hanta-Davis debated human trafficking and women’s access to education in sub-Saharan Africa, and was able to cite Zimbabwe’s strong record on providing equal educational opportunities for women, even with few resources.
On the other hand, Emma Craven-Mathews, representing Zimbabwe in the UN High Commission on Refugees, had to support Zimbabwe’s intolerant official position on gay rights. Zach Bechhoefer, on the International Atomic Energy Agency, argued that Iran had just as much right to develop nuclear weapons as Western powers. Jonah Lefkoe, in the World Health Organization, debated the issues of clean water development — the roles of public vs. private water companies — and how best to manage healthcare wastes.
The Model United Nations program at MUHS is coordinated by faculty advisers Christine Heagy, the Latin teacher at Middlebury Union high and middle schools, and Carolyn Schmidt, the program director at ECOLOGIA, an internationally active nonprofit based in Middlebury. In addition to the Dartmouth conference each spring, MUHS Model UN students attend a one-day conference in Burlington in the fall, and organize and run their own one-day conference in Middlebury, which is attended by students from other schools such as Vermont Commons and Vergennes Union, Rice Memorial and Burlington high schools.

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