Flint Hill’s Model UN takes on UVA


Photo Credit: Philip Snell

Members of Flint Hill Model United Nations Club pose for a photo at the University of Virginia.

By Kamryn Olds, Arts Editor

This year, after leaving school early on Friday, November 18, fourteen Flint Hill students began their holiday break by traveling to the University of Virginia and participating in its annual Model United Nations Conference.

Each student was tasked with taking on a role, either as the representative of a country or an important leader in a committee, with each committee then being assigned a different topic to discuss. These topics were historical, contemporary, and even futuristic. Nevertheless, when debating, it was the job of each delegate to consistently represent the concerns and background of the character to which they were assigned.

Senior Alden Wagner, one of student leaders of the Model UN club at Flint Hill, spoke in detail about the activities students typically participated in each day at the conference.

“Every day, we would have either one or two ‘committee meetings’ that lasted approximately 3 to 4 hours,” said Wagner. “Within the committees, delegates debate and collaborate to pass resolutions, directives, press releases, and more to solve problems within the context of their committee and position. In my committee particularly, which was the CIA during the Congo Crisis of 1964, we were working to protect capitalism in the Congo during the Cold War when Containment was at its peak priority within the United States.”

Many of the students who participate in Model UN at Flint Hill joined because they were drawn to this particular form of lively discussion and were genuinely interested in the topics being discussed, which serve as an outlet for both creative and intellectual growth.

Junior Neha Sharma told the story of why she decided to join the group this year.

“There are so many things that made me want to join this club,” said Sharma. “I am interested in politics and I like to be challenged, and MUN really does that. I’m not really a sports [kind of] gal and this is a great way to be academically competitive and not athletically competitive.”

Still, for Sharma and the 13 other students who traveled to UVA, this year’s Virginia Model UN Conference not only allowed for the thrill of competition and joy of meeting new people, but also provided the students with an opportunity to grow and learn. This is what Wagner believed was real takeaway from the trip.

“I think that VAMUN [Virginia Model UN] was a very well-run and high-level conference,” said the senior. “I definitely believe that our team learned from the conference; as with each conference, students gain invaluable experience that prepares them for the future. I think our team performed well, but, as a majority of the Flint Hill delegates were in their first or second conference, and VAMUN operates at an extremely high level, I believe our main takeaway was learning about MUN…In all, I think everyone had fun, and it was a great opportunity and experience!”

Overall, for the students involved in Model UN, this year’s trip to the annual conference was an enjoyable and educational activity, evidence of the fact that, despite sometimes being overlooked among many clubs that exist at Flint Hill, theirs is one that continues to grow and evolve.

Junior Tyson Zhang, also a first year member of the club, enjoyed more than just the academic aspect of the experience.

“I got to know some extremely passionate [people], and it was like a whole new world,” said Zhang. “There were so many people there that were so proficient, and I really look up to them and see them as an inspiration to learning…In general, it was inspirational to see so many people working so hard.”

At this year’s conference, Sharma, who participated for the very first time, was able to win Honorable Mention for her work in the Press Corps committee in which she was tasked with writing articles and circulating information to other committees. More importantly, however, each student who participated gained something, whether it was more ease in social settings, increased proficiency in public speaking, or even a deeper knowledge of the world, which allowed him/her to grow and learn. And, in the end, this is the primary goal of the club and what its leaders consider to be most important.

“A conference is going well if students are talking about their committees outside of committee,” said Philip Snell, Upper School Science Teacher and one of club’s sponsors.

“If students are prepared and interested enough in their topics to keep talking about it when they don’t have to, then I think things are going well. The students were engaged and very well prepared.”