Model UN Debates, Compromises at DVC Conference

Isabel Owens, Lifestyle Editor

Model United Nations, a club in which students role-play international diplomats addressing global issues, participated in the annual Diablo Valley College (DVC) conference on November 7 and 8.

Campolindo finished as runners-up for the Best Delegation Award. The award was won by California High School.

Freshmen Regina Kong and Lexie Reinecke, sophomores Stephanie Aldenete and Austen Li, and juniors Tanvir Kaur, Sarah Boese, and Ivan Gomez-Siu won certificates of individual recognition. Additionally, senior club president Sharon Maher and juniors Thomas Liao, Conor Hanvey, and Uma Gaffney won “exceptional delegate” awards.

According to club advisor and social studies teacher Ryan Boyd, Model UN is a predominantly student-run organization in which students simulate the procedures of the United Nations. “Campolindo has a tradition of going to the DVC conference, which is a bunch of local schools that meet and have this event. What’s great about this program is that there’s a lot of different events,” Boyd said.

The club had more sign-ups this year than expected, creating stress for Maher. “I’m really grateful for that, but it means I’m in charge of almost 40 kids and I’m in charge of meetings and stuff, but it was really rewarding,” Maher said.

Boyd has recently taken the role of club advisor, and is still adjusting to the transition. “I’ve learned some things about the protocol in terms of preparing for the trip. Next year I’ll be a lot more organized about what we have to do; I’m going to look forward to the event itself. I’ve been to one of these before but I haven’t been a long time, so I’m going to see exactly how things are run,” he explained.

“He’s been great; he covered all the logistics really well and he’s on top of it, so having a new advisor wasn’t too big of a deal,” said Maher.

Boyd believes that the team was well prepared for the event, as they performed a conference simulation beforehand.”They’ve worked reallly hard in terms of preparing and talking about what’s been successful in the past, so the returners have given good advice about networking and writing resolutions,” he said.

At the conference, students were divided into committees, and worked to find solutions to their assigned global issue with representatives from other Bay Area high schools. “You’re given 2 topics that you’re going to talk about at the conference. You try to find resolutions and solutions for them,” said freshman Claire Stewart, a member of the International Maritime Organization committee.

Sophomore Michael DaRoda, who represented Bangladesh in the General Assembly Committee, discussed climate change, world poverty, and hunger at the conference. “Around 30 people from 10 East Bay schools were in each committee and had to figure out a solution to their assigned problems and write resolutions to solve these problems,” he said.

According to the Contra Costa Country Office of Education website, Model UN differs from academic clubs such as Mock Trial and Academic Decathlon in that “it is not so much a competition as it is an event. Participants are commended for outstanding committee work and trophies are awarded to committee rapporteurs.”

Model UN hopes to “foster skills in diplomacy and compromise,” rather than skills in debate, according to the National Model United Nations website. However, competition is still encouraged. “You do receive awards for participation and they do awards like the Best Delegation,” said Boyd.

“You can get speaker awards, so it’s based on how intellectually you speak and how you present yourself,” added Stewart, who gave speeches on Maritine Territorial Disputes and Maritime Security Against Pirates for the country of Mexico. “You’re kind of like working together and exchanging ideas.”

According to Maher, 3 tiers of awards are presented at the end of the conference. “The first tier is the gavel, it’s the top speaker award. I ended up getting in the second tier, it’s the excellent speaker. I ended up vying for the gavel and then someone from Cal High beat me,” said Maher, who spoke for the Agricultural Committee. “About four or five of us got that second place and about the same got third place.”

New club members developed an understanding of the difficulty associated with international relations. “Because we represent a real world country we sometimes argued with each other about what the right course of action is,” explained DaRoda.

Stewart and other new club members weren’t sure what the atmosphere of the conference would be like. “A bunch of the first-years, myself included, didn’t know exactly what to expect, but I think all the first-years got into the rhythm of things pretty quickly,” DaRoda said.

“I’m proud of how we did because we had a lot of new people and I know personally that a lot of them really stepped up and did very well at the conference, we got several new people getting basically an honorable mention,” Maher said.