Last week, CBA played host to over 150 middle school students from eight schools across New Jersey as part of the Third Annual Middle School Model United Nations Conference. The conference has continued to grow and has introduced ever more sixth through eighth graders to the fields of international relations and debate.
Competitive Model United Nations functions much like debate, however, instead of arguing positions, participants take on the roles of nations or political figures and debate within the confines of various UN and political bodies such as the United Nations Security Council or General Assembly. Model United Nations has a long history at CBA and has been coached for the past twelve years by history teacher Mrs. Maureen Szablewski. For much of this time, the club has consisted solely of a competitive team which travels to compete at conferences around the country. This expanded two years ago as CBA students created and staffed a conference of their own.
This conference is a fantastic chance to showcase a great club at CBA, both for prospective students and the wider community, and it really gives CBA students a chance to look at Model United Nations from the other side, acting as judges and seeing the competitive aspect a bit differently. Preparation for the conference began last summer with CBA students choosing committees and preparing background guides for the middle school delegates. Committee chairs attended several meetings and training sessions to prepare them to oversee the committee meetings and judge the performance of the middle school students. CBA Students also visited several middle schools prior to the conference to assist them in preparing for the conference.
Delegates began the day with a brief parliamentary procedure workshop given by Michael Gualario ’16 and a lively international relations trivia game hosted by Deputy Secretary Corbin Richardson ’16. They were then welcomed with a challenge to make a difference in the world by Secretary General Nick DeMuria ’16 who then with the bang of the gavel declared the conference open. The conference included five committees including the Historic Security Council, the United Nations Development Programme, World Health Organization, a joint cabinet crisis with North and South Korea and the First Committee of the General Assembly, Disarmament and Security.
Debate quickly took off and ranged from topics such as biological warfare to vaccination programs to historical crises such as the invasion of Kuwait. Students quickly took up the positions of their respective countries and attempted to broker deals which would help solve some of the most pressing issues facing the modern world. The students were able to engage directly with issues which they might not otherwise come across in their studies or daily lives. Security Council Chairperson Andrew Rooney complimented the middle school delegates in his committee on “their high level of preparation” and noted that their performance was outstanding. The Crisis staff headed by Brendan Madden kept the delegates engaged over the course of the conference by delivering emerging challenges which delegates had to address.
By 8:45pm it was time for the students to reconvene for the closing ceremonies and the awarding of prizes for those students who best argued their positions in each committee. After tallying, Oak Hill emerged to win the Best Delegation Award, followed by St. Leo the Great School who took the Outstanding Delegation award. Of course, students had such an enjoyable and enlightening time that the true victory of the day was shared. Each student left having gained new knowledge of the world around them and with greater insight into the power of debate and compromise.