By Sanjit Menon
In-person or remote, the art of debating was not lost. The students at New Hyde Park Memorial High School had the ability to showcase their debating skills at various virtual Model UN conferences such as Washington Area Model United Nations Conference (WAMUNC), North American Invitational Model United Nations (NAIMUN), and the annual Lee Marcus Invitational Sewanhaka Intra-District Model United Nations Conference (SIDMUN).
As the Model UN conferences have adapted to the remote world, many students were concerned about the transition since it was a new concept. With the contributions of adviser Mr. Novak, students were able to find the experience pleasurable and take advantage of the remote situation.
“It helps build character and allows one to become an experienced debater...”
“If you ask me, the way MUNners adapted to their respective virtual experiences was amazing. Almost everyone learned the ins and outs of apps like Zoom and Slack in a matter of hours. Some people even went as far as to make their 3-D backgrounds the flag of the nation they represented,” said junior Chris John.
In spite of these numerous advantages, the traditional method of debating stimulates a more productive and communicative environment. Therefore, the chairs and supervisors of each committee utilized breakout rooms to allow delegates to converse and come up with collaborative solutions, just as if delegates were caucusing in a real committee room. Hosting a conference virtually allows for delegates around the world to attend which makes the entire experience inclusive and surreal. New moderated caucus procedures were implemented and apps such as GroupMe and Google Classroom were used to pass notes during crisis. With the remote change, many NHP students were able to partake in numerous groups, which opened more doors than in-person MUN events could offer.
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The NHP MUN team tackled problems such as bioterrorism, LGBTQ+ rights, and historical crises with other delegates from all over the nation.
“While online, we as a club are allowed to go to more conferences than we could if we were in school. Usually we would only be able to go to two conferences in person with a limited amount of seats available. Being online, we can go to six to seven conferences and anyone who is interested in going can attend,” said junior Sydra Daniyal.
Although the remote MUN events were properly organized, the newcomers in Model UN were not able to experience the grand scale of typical SIDMUN, WAMUNC, and NAIMUN events.
“Conference provides an opportunity to the students who have not participated in an in-person conference. It helps build character and allows one to become an experienced debater,” said junior Serena Sajumon.
The members of the team worked tirelessly to discuss and bring attention to crucial topics. Even with the remote collegiate conference structure, NHP delegates excelled in their committees. The following is a list of all the awards New Hyde Park Memorial took home from recent MUN events:
Book Award: senior Chris Ribaric
Honorable Mention: junior Faiza Ahmed
Honorable Mention: sophomore Nikson Alex, junior Daniella Canning, senior Josh Eisenberg, and sophomore Emily Speter
Verbal Accommodation: junior Faiza Ahmed, junior Samantha Chang, senior Khushi Shah, and sophomore David Ren
Outstanding Delegate: sophomore Brenda Bolouvi
Honorable Mention: sophomore Nikson Alex, freshman Kaitlyn Bell, freshman Guneet Hanjra, and sophomore Abigail Varghese
Best Position Paper: sophomore Rachel Houng and sophomore David Ren
Outstanding Delegate: sophomore Brenda Bolouvi and freshman Ethan Mehta
Best Delegate: junior Faiza Ahmed, senior Josh Eisenberg, freshman Fiona O’Reilly, and sophomore Ethan Siegel
During these times, it is viable to resort to different methods in order to preserve cherished student activities. Many Model UN students are grateful that they still had a chance to participate in events like these despite the unusual circumstances. Although younger students have not yet experienced in-person debates, future events, such as the one in May, are allowing students to participate in person while practicing social distancing. New Hyde Park Memorial MUNners are looking to the future when traditional conferences will begin again and they can use new skills they gained from this past year.