Hopkins is hosting its fourth annual Model United Nations conference on Saturday, April 28.
Organizers of the event, Alexandra Blitzer ‘18 and Grace El-Fishawy ‘18, said that both new and returning members have much to look forward to.
For those not familiar, Model United Nations is an extracurricular at Hopkins and many other high schools around the world in which students represent various countries or persons and simulate UN committees, discussing and debating policies, resolutions, and ways of changing international law.
Most often, as Blitzer explained, Model UN conferences take place at universities for a full weekend. Past Hopkins Model UN members have attended conferences at Brown, University of New Haven, Harvard, and Dartmouth. Rayane Taroua ‘20 listed the benefts of spending a weekend away at a college: “It helps you gain independence. We get a lot of freedom to roam around. We dress professionally and work hard. We basically get to act like adults for a weekend.” However, missing the last few school days in a week and not having a free weekend to do homework can be difficult for some. This may be too great a commitment for a student unsure about their level of interest or wary about their level of experience.
So what makes a Hopkins-hosted and student-run conference so special? El-Fishawy noted one beneft of the HOPMUN conference: “The committees are really small, which is something that you don’t normally get at a college conference.” She also added, “[Blitzer and I have] met and made a lot of friends, so we have them all coming back this year.” Blitzer commented that “...bringing the Model UN teams from all over Connecticut together is really cool. We’ve definitely reached out and connected to other schools throughout the state.”
El-Fishawy succinctly stated the pros of attending a HOPMUN conference, “Low cost, low stress, low commitment.” Costs aren’t nearly as weighty when compared to the hundreds of dollars spent if someone chose to stay at and attend a college MUN conference. In fact, HOPMUN is free to attend for Hopkins students. Along with lower costs, a local conference means that students do not have to miss school to be able to participate, nor will they have to deal with catching up on nearly as much work. “What’s really important is giving people the opportunity to do Model UN in a comfortable, student-run environment like this,” said El-Fishawy.
Despite being a single-day event, preparation for the event is time-consuming and begins much sooner than the day of conference. Participants will sign up for and be assigned their committees ahead of time so that they can prepare their countries’ viewpoints and possible resolutions. As the HOPMUN website states, “This year, HOPMUN IV will focus on globalization.” Five committees all have much to offer: American Imperialism, The Modern Silk Road, The Regulation of Virtual Currency, British Parliament (Brexit 2016), and The Second Congo War. These topics fall under multiple classifcations and appeal to all sorts of interests prospective participants may have. Current or historical, crisis-driven or the topic of a cordial general assembly, “HOPMUN IV offers committees for both novice and experienced delegates,” as stated on the HOPMUN website.
A second-year member of Hopkins Model UN, Lily Meyers ‘20, spoke on the topic of HOPMUN IV: “I am planning on attending and I’m very excited. I went to last year’s conference and it was a lot of fun. I thought it was a good introduction for me into the program, as it was in December last year. I know that they’re going to do a great job organizing it.”
Blitzer contrasted the difference between the hands-on experience that accompanies attending a legitimate Model UN conference as opposed to simply going to club meetings on Wednesdays: “As much as you can come to our meetings and try to get a feel for it all, nothing is representative of actually being at a conference.”
One of the chairs heading the conference, Theo Tellides ‘19, related what he loves most about Model UN and this year’s HOPMUN committees, “I’m chairing a historical committee on the Second Congo War. I chose to chair this topic because I know nothing about it. As I started to research the war, I quickly became very surprised that I had never heard of it before. It turns out that nine African countries participated in the Second Congo War and 5.4 million people died. This discovery is one of the reasons I love Model UN. I get to become an expert on history that we don’t have the time learn in school. I am looking forward to the conference, and hope the rest of my committee will enjoy researching as much as I did.”
“It’s quasi-academic,” said El-Fishawy, “but it’s really just a lot of fun. You get to take a break for a day and learn about a topic and just get obsessed with it, becoming an expert on this one thing.” Blitzer added, “It’s only about the length of a school day; there’s food, and even the spring play is the same weekend, so there’s so much to do and you can just spend a day completely immersed in a sophisticated event while still genuinely enjoying yourself.”
Now the Secretary-General and one of many dedicated senior members of the Hopkins Model UN program, Blitzer considered her new shift in responsibility: “From a planning perspective, I would say that it’s really fun for us to be able to share committees, decide what the topics are, and deal with the logistics of how a conference happens.” Meyers described her experience with the organizational side of a conference, saying, “I was a part of a discussion where they were starting to brainstorm topics for the committees. They were really interesting and pulled from a variety of time periods and subjects and they tried to make them more unique and not like topics you would normally see at other UN conferences.”
El-Fishawy refected on the history of HOPMUN: “It’s been really successful and it’s grown a ton since [Blitzer and I] were freshmen; I want to put it at twenty people, and that’s generous. Last year we had four hundred, so it’s defnitely growing.” She added, “I think it’s really fun, so many people have gotten into Model UN through HOPMUN who defnitely would not have done it otherwise.” Blitzer explained: “Those who are interested do not need any previous experience in Model UN and can participate or simply just watch and get a feel for what happens without committing to a full weekend conference. It’s a really great opportunity to test the waters. You’re just kind of getting out into the feld and seeing what we’re all about.”
HOPMUN IV will be taking place from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm on Saturday, April 28. For additional information regarding registration, committees, and important dates and deadlines please explore the Hopkins Model United Nations website, hopmun.weebly.com.