Delegates converse and revise their working papers during the conference. Photo: Mary Amelia Weiss

On Sunday, Oct. 3, Pace hosted its third Model United Nations conference. Upper school students, as well as eighth-graders gathered in Fuqua to debate the topic of improving access to education and technology around the world. Since the model involved Pace alone, it served as more of a practice for delegates to hone their skills in preparation for actual conferences that will begin in late fall. “My hopes for delegates include being able to research and being able to speak from the point of view of a UN member state and to understand the partnerships that are so valuable in improving education: with private businesses, with foundations and with universities — the actions of sovereign states may not be enough,” said faculty adviser Helen Smith.

The Model United Nations program aims to allow students to learn about topics they would not otherwise be exposed to in school curricula alone. “I have put in a lot of work researching the topics of early childhood education and the digital divide,” said freshman Gavin Sender. This process allows students to think critically and outside of their comfort zone, as well as practice public speaking and research-based writing. 

This year’s theme for PACEMUNC III extended the Isdell Center for Global Leadership’s focus on education and the different ways it is implemented and handled depending on region, resources and more. “My hope was to illustrate to delegates the significance of early childhood education, a topic that we often take for granted,” Ms. Smith said. Delegates like Sender noted that they are very interested in technology and education and thus found the topic fascinating to learn about.

Despite being a relatively low-stakes conference, students still put a notable amount of effort into this project. “I have learned a lot about research and analytical writing from Ms. Smith,” junior Marit Uyham noted about her preparation process. “The topics that the MUN Executive Board chose are very interesting and important and are also very dynamic themes due to the pandemic,” Uyham added. 

Members of the Model UN Executive Board, including seniors Kargil Behl, Leah Favero and Ryan Varma and juniors Emma Beth Neville, Kate Webb and Mary Amelia Weiss served as the chairs of the conference, moderating discussion and offering feedback to delegates throughout the day. The debate commenced in the early afternoon and finished at 5:30 p.m. with multiple blocks proposing competing solutions about how to best improve access to education.  “My favorite part of MUN is working with my friends to come up with a solution to these problems,” Sender said. 

Ms. Smith put in hours reading papers, suggesting, commenting, planning and meeting with students. “Many students needed help in focusing on their country’s proposal to address problems in education. The best part was when they followed suggestions and in the model presented coherent and thoughtful proposals,” Ms. Smith said. Faculty sponsors Dr. Christine Carter, Dr. Kaylan Haizlip and Dr. Don Dupree also helped with this process, and Mr. Marty Hamburger handled all logistics and materials in preparation for the model. 

In the future, students can look forward to the upcoming William and Mary conference in November and a conference with Columbia in January. Sadly, these will both be virtual, but Ms. Smith hopes that Model UN travel can begin again soon enough. “There has been a specific effort to keep the program going internationally despite the pandemic, so I believe this organization will be stronger than ever in the future,” said Mr. Hamburger. Every passionate delegate looks forward to attending in-person conferences outside of Pace. “The best part of Model UN is the conference,” Uyham said. “It is an exciting experience to participate as delegates when real-world leaders are doing the same right now in New York.”

 

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