By ANUSH SWAMINATHAN, senior
NO WORDS can truly capture the essence of the 3rd Annual John P. Stevens Model United Nations Conference, held on Saturday, October 12. In a fulfilling yet exhaustive day, hard- working and dedicated individuals from many middle and high schools (JP included) converged to learn and teach, to compromise and debate, and to grow and evolve into delegates capable of tact, eloquence, and creativity.
A keen understanding of complex global, national, and historical issues seemed to prevail among the many committees in the conference, such as the Republican National Convention, the Trojan War Committee, the World Health Organization, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the Special Political and Decolonization Committee. The day began with keynote speaker Patrick Tiefenbacher, an employee of the United Nations whose career to date has included work in South Africa and Serbia. As senior Miheer Patankar put it, “To hear from a distinguished member of the very organization that this conference is trying to emulate is very inspiring to us all.” Tiefenbacher spoke about his own journey and how an experience at a collegiate Model United Nations conference inspired him to pursue political science in addition to his original major, chemistry, when he was a university student in Austria. Demonstrating their interest in and awareness of current events, the MUN delegates asked the speaker for his opinion on a variety of topics ranging from the international implications of unilateral military action on the part of the United States with respect to the situation in Syria to the limitations and value of the veto power in the Security Council. The Secretary-General of the conference, Gaurav Thakur, thanked Mr. Tiefenbacher for his speech, offered a few words of his own about his experience in Model UN, and declared the conference officially open.
Participants across five committees, armed with the ideals of either the individuals or the “nation-people” that they represented, engaged in healthy competition at its finest. The staff worked overtime as the delegates worked on overdrive, creating an atmosphere of fun and frenzy for all. The two crisis committees, Republican National Convention and the Trojan War Committee, battled through ordeals that were respectively political and supernatural in nature, and each consisted of delegates representing notable individuals. As Rand Paul and Mitt Romney clashed in the RNC, Achilles and Odysseus worked to fight off the Trojans while engineering their own power plays in the Achaean Cabinet. The General Assembly and the two specialized committees epitomized diplomacy, with compromise and powerfully voiced opinions holding the key to dominance by the delegates. By the time the snack break rolled around, all that was left were mental exhaustion and satisfied smiles (with maybe a few close-to-illegible resolutions). In the words of junior Jessica Francis, a member of the conference staff, “Food was the last thing on our minds; our enjoyment shadowed everything else.”
The conference, from the start, was given one major purpose: to educate by experience. And on all counts, it succeeded. People came to win, and left having achieved just that. As Gaurav Thakur declared, “MUN is a club for learning, not for pretending, and that is why we are all here.” The passion that carried the conference is why the students chose to take time out of their weekend and is why everyone won – for everyone came, everyone saw, and everyone conquered the challenge of obtaining more knowledge, and becoming better global citizens in the process.