More than 3,000 students – including 20 from three Jackson high schools – took part in the Washington Area Model UN Conference on March 19th representing the JH Community School, JH High School, and Journeys School, together with three chaperones.
One of the most prestigious high school level conferences in the US, WAMUNC draws top model UN teams from across the country and abroad. IC 21 organized the trip to Washington, D.C. for the Jackson delegation that was coached by Jeff Brazil, Social Studies teacher at Jackson Hole High School and by Jessica Chambers.
Every year IC 21 sponsors the Teton County Model United Nations (TCMUN), which attracts students from across WY and ID. There, as at WAMUNC, each student represents a country and participates in a committee that simulates a UN body and is comprised of delegates representing countries assigned to them by the conference organizers. In each committee, students deliberate global issues, create solutions in the form of resolutions, and strive to convince other delegates to pass these resolutions.
Put on by the George Washington University International Affairs Society, WAMUNC XVII was held from March 19-22, 2015 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. The conference attracted delegations from across the US and the globe. This year’s roster boasted a diverse set of schools, including delegations hailing from the local Washington metropolitan area, and the United Nations International Schools in New York City, South Africa, Panama, Greece, and Mexico.
In late October of 2014, students went through a rigorous application process and were selected by a WAMUNC Selection Committee. From November until the third week in March, students met with their Model UN trainers every week to properly research their committees, write their position papers, and prepare to debate as either countries or historical figures. Assigned topics and figures ranged from the Russian Mafia, Mao’s Cultural Revolution Group, the West Wing, and John F. Kennedy’s Presidential Campaign in 1960!
The first morning in Washington, DC the group toured the White House! The students and chaperones then made their way to several memorials including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, MLK Memorial and Korean War Veterans Memorial. The Jackson group was then able to tour the Capitol building and visit Senator Enzi’s office. At the Senator’s office students were able to speak with one of his staffers about several topics and their Model UN conference.
The Washington Area Model United Nations Conference is a conference as steeped in tradition as its host school, George Washington University, however, this year’s rendition started many new trends – including new committees that Jackson students had an opportunity to experience!
From the outset, the message of the conference was a call to action; the idea that the work delegates would do and the discussions they would engage in over the course of the weekend would go beyond the confines of the conference and the walls of the hotel. Accordingly, the secretariat, staff, and speakers endeavored to show delegates the knowledge they gained and the skills they learned in their committees could translate into the “real” world.
One example of this call to action is WAMUNC’s various philanthropic initiatives. This year’s chosen charity was Instituto Mundo Libre (IML), an organization based in Peru that provides prevention and rehabilitation programs for high-risk youth. This year, each committee was motivated to raise money and win a “free breakfast” during their last conference day. Through participating in this philanthropic endeavor, delegates were able to make a concrete difference in the global community and learn about ways in which they can continue to do so post conference.
The Jackson delegation received two awards given to: Honora Verdone, JH Community School, Verbal Recognition Award, Organisation Européenne pour la Recherche Nucléaire Committee (CERN), and to Walter Thulin, JH Community School, Honorable Mention, International Criminal Court Committee.