Gannon hosts 63rd annual Model United Nations


Organized and hosted by Gannon University students and faculty, the 63rd Annual Model United Nations Conference was held this past weekend for around 500 high school students from the tri-state area.
The Gannon Model U.N. event is the longest running conference of its type in the country and is the second oldest model U.N. in the world.
The event began with registration at 3 p.m. Friday and ended with the Delegate Award Presentation at 2 p.m. Saturday.
During the event, young students from 26 different high schools gathered together to discuss current and previous U.N. crises in an effort to learn about the diverse cultures and political systems around the world.
These issues that are discussed in the Model U.N. are similar to those discussed by the actual U.N. during its General Assemblies.
The issues chosen to be discussed this year included combating cyber warfare and implementing procedures of sensitive information, encouraging an open and competitive market for the extraction and sale of natural resources in developing nations, protecting religious freedom and promoting education to improve tolerance to all religious beliefs, creating a uniform political procedure for distribution and management of humanitarian efforts and emphasizing the need for health care reform to prevent the transmittance of infectious diseases.
In addition to these topics, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) also simulated issues with the discussion of “A Path to the Future: Prioritizing and Establishing New Sustainable Development Goals Post 2015 Millennium Development Goals.”
For this year’s conference, the Historical Security Council also contributed by covering issues from 1961 with the building of the Berlin Wall.
In order to properly organize for the numerous discussion categories, Gannon students and faculty must begin preparations months in advance for this large event.
Students involved in the Model U.N. are either a part of the Model U.N. Club or the United Nations Practicum class taught by Anjali Sahay, Ph.D.
Sahay also acts as the general moderator for the Model U.N. Committee.
Although a majority of the students involved are political science or international affairs majors, other students from a wide range of majors also participate.
A dynamic group of students make up the Model U.N. staff, including individuals from the U.S., India, the Virgin Islands, Bosnia, Cameroon, Ukraine, Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Sahay believes that much of the success of the event comes from this wide diversity within the Model U.N. staff.
“It’s a great learning experience when [Gannon students] plan an event like this,” she said. “They learn team building, cultural sensitivity and how to work well together while all coming from different backgrounds.”
Sahay also said the Model U.N. conference doubles as a learning experience for her as well.
“Frankly, I learn a lot from my students,” she said. “It’s a great learning and bonding experience, especially during the time before and after the conference.”
While the Model U.N. largely benefited the workers who planned the conference, it also impacted the high school students who participated.
Megan Whitman, a senior at McDowell High School, enjoyed the aspect of teamwork throughout the conference.
“I got to interact with hundreds of students from diverse backgrounds,” she said. “We all came together to achieve a common goal and I expanded my understanding of the global community.”
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