Northwestern University Model United Nations’s ninth annual conference aimed to model the diplomatic environment of the UN. It went so far to include a midnight crisis session Friday night, in which the delegates were woken up at their hotels at 2 a.m. and presented with a video of a crisis to solve by 5 a.m.
Most of the NUMUN members who put on the conference this weekend have been involved in Model United Nations since high school, so they relish being “the other side” of the conference. Chief of Staff Sam Block, a Medill junior, has been involved in Model United Nations for five years and attended these conferences throughout high school.
“As a leader you have a ton of power, so you definitely feel like a teacher when you have your own autonomous body,” Block said. “You choose what people are going to debate and you make sure it happens. … And we see right through the kids who are just trying to win awards.”
Planning for the logistics of the conference “is kind of like a puzzle,” NUMUN Treasurer Jaya Sah, a Weinberg junior, said. NUMUN members found a place to host the 500 delegates and about 60 advisors, negotiated rates with local hotels, booked rooms in Norris and rented equipment, such as copy machines and projectors, for the weekend.
“Logistics is a huge part of what we do,” Block said. “We are in charge of the crazy logistics that go into planning a three or four day event, so like the bus schedules and our delegate dance. Every year there are new challenges, like this year the dance is at Patten Gym, which is in the middle of the frat quad. So that’s an organizational nightmare.”
Extensive research was also done by NUMUN in order to assign each school a certain country to portray during the conference and then assign to delegates to one of 14 committees, which were based on United Nations committees or special-topic committees, such as the Arab Spring.
The high school delegates researched their country’s position on current issues for the past two months, so that they could propose and pass resolutions during the conference and also be eligible for conference awards.
Yamini Chandra, 16, a junior at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Ill., said she has previously attended Model United Nations conferences at Harvard University and Brown University. Chandra, who wants to pursue a career in international business, said she put about 30 to 40 hours into researching the Russian Federation in order to prepare for her role in the United Nations Security Council committee.
“Doing the research helps acquaint you to resources, but the biggest lesson we learn is compromise,” Chandra said. “Everyone here has a genuine interest in international relations, so it does help you to learn different viewpoints.”