Students compete in, judge HoMMUNC

Naomi Yaeger and Lucy Peck

Students from 46 schools — reaching as far as Los Angeles and Canada — competed in the annual Horace Mann Model United Nations Conference (HoMMUNC), hosted by the Model UN (MUN) team over Zoom last Saturday. The upperclassmen moderated and chaired the event while underclassmen and Middle Division (MD) students participated. 

Multiple of the school’s student participants, called delegates, won awards: two MD members won best delegates in their committees and a few participants won “outstanding delegate” and “honorable mention” awards, Secretary-General (SG) Ria Chowdhry (12) said.

“Outstanding delegate” award winner Nate Chiang (10) said he felt accomplished when he won. “I felt super happy and that all my work had paid off,” he said.

Upperclassmen assigned each delegate one country to research, Miller Harris (11) said.

At the conference, delegates were sorted into committees where they debated specific topics. The committees ranged from the Disarmament and International Security Committee, which debated bioterrorism, to the World Health Organization, which debated the vaccine rollout, Chowdhry said.

Within the MD committees, delegates separated into blocs, groups of countries that shared similar interests, to draft resolutions, Emily Park (8) said. “I thought that bloc work was the best part because you could really see each delegate’s critical thinking, what their solutions were, and their perspective on the topic.”

At the end of the conference, delegates participated in “fun MUN,” where they gave each other superlatives, told jokes, and played a Kahoot, Park said. She enjoyed this part of the conference because it let her see a new side of her fellow delegates. 

While HoMMUNC took place over Zoom, the school’s Upper Division (UD) team participated together at the school, SG Corey Brooks (12) said. To do this, the upperclassmen reserved a space and got approval from Head of School Dr. Tom Kelly and Dean of Students Michael Dalo. “We wanted to have some sort of in-person aspect, but what’s most important to us is the safety of ourselves and the team,” Brooks said.

Being in person allowed the team to participate in activities such as MUN moments, where members shared fun moments they had with one another from current and past conferences, Chowdhry said. The activity gives new members of the team a glimpse into what future conferences will look like, she said.

The in-person aspect of the event made it more fun, Hannah Moss (11) said. “Just being in school, as opposed to being at home on Zoom, made it a lot more enjoyable.”

Leading up to the event, upperclassmen wrote background guides, which include  information about the topics debated in their designated committees, Harris said. They also contacted other schools with an invite and created the committee assignments for the school’s delegates, he said.

The SGs updated the HoMMUNC website, researched new schools and invited them to the conference, contacted MUN’s faculty advisors, and set up Zoom accounts for all the committee chairs, Brooks said. “You could write an entire paper just on the mass coordination effort,” he said.

The moderators also helped prepare the school’s team, Harris said. “I helped the participants bounce ideas off one another as well as develop their existing ideas.”

Moss said she helped the new members of the team get acquainted with MUN prior to the event. “Especially for the freshmen, we just walked them through the process of competing in a Model UN conference.”

Each participant was tasked with researching their assigned country beforehand. Chiang researched China’s efforts to develop their own vaccines, he said. Another participant, Lily Wender (10), researched how China responded to bioterrorism — the topic her committee focused on — and possible related policies, she said.

In addition to researching their country, delegates also prepared speeches for their upcoming committees. Park said she pre-wrote speeches on common topics relating to her committee’s focus. For help, she turned to the MUN MD mentors, she said. “They looked over my solutions and gave me new ideas and ways to expand upon them.”

The event was successful under the upperclassmen’s leadership, Moss said. “There were a few technical difficulties of course, but we worked them through. It was a really enjoyable event overall,” she said.

Harris also found the event fulfilling. “It was rewarding to see our hard work pay off after seeing the event run smoothly.”

The juniors proved their leadership skills at the conference, Brooks said. “This was their first opportunity to show leadership and all of them did stellar.” 

One of the responsibilities the juniors held at the conference was judging, Chowdhry said. “The judging process is a lot of listening to and observing delegates and their ability to form blocs and speak confidently,” she said. Judges factor in speech work, preparation, active participation, and collaboration with other delegates in the committee, she said.  

Brooks also appreciated how much the sophomores and freshmen were able to accomplish, he said. “It’s an amazing learning opportunity for them.”

The conference gave middle schoolers and high schoolers the opportunity to discuss world issues, Park said. “There are a lot of crises in the world that aren’t solved, and through solving them, we are empowering people to make a change in the world,” Park said.

Chiang found the conference informative, he said. “I definitely learned a lot about working with others and building consensus as they do in the real United Nations,” he said.

For Moss, a highlight was seeing people from different committees come together to support each other when submitting awards, she said. “It just showed the importance of teamwork within the club.”

It was a lot of fun, and for what it was worth, HoMMUNC could not have gone better”

– Brooks said.

Brooks was similarly excited about the team building in the club. He was thrilled that two resolutions, ten-page papers written by the delegates, passed in his committee, he said. “They require a lot of work and research, so when one does get passed, it means a lot to delegates.”