On Saturday, December 12th, Harriton held its first Virtual Model United Nations Conference. Due to the ongoing pandemic, things have changed for the Model UN team. Instead of weekly meetings, lunch and learn presentations, and an overnight conference in Philadelphia, the Harriton Model UN team had to come up with a new plan for this year.
Harriton seniors Alexander Yung, Xenia Mowes, and Guillaume Placidet came up with the idea of hosting a Model UN conference as their CAS project (the IB equivalent of a senior project, with required creativity, activity, and service hours).
They hoped to combine their love for Model UN and their needed CAS hours in a new online conference: Harrit-MUN. This conference would be run and organized by IB Harriton Seniors, with the help of Harriton teacher, Mr. Warren, in a completely online format.
After brainstorming and selecting committee topics, they reached out to fellow IB seniors Erika Kurre and Camille Furer to join the team for their CAS project and as chairs to the Yemen humanitarian crisis general assembly. The last to join the team were Samantha Biglin and Enya Xiang as chairs for the COVID-19 general assembly.
Placidet says he is “proud to have allowed students to engage with these topics that [they] wouldn’t usually discuss in a classroom environment and I personally learned a lot of skills along the way!”
The students met for months, every Sunday evening, preparing documents and figuring out the logistics for an online conference. The group originally planned to moderate the conference in Harriton classrooms, but Governor Wolf’s new COVID guidelines prohibited extracurricular activities from meeting in person. Some adjustments had to be made days before the conference; however, Placidet explained that “adapting the conference to Zoom went a lot better than expected.”
The seven students worked with delegates from Harriton, Lower Merion, Great Valley High School, and the Charter School of Wilmington from 9 am to 3 pm. Despite the new format, there were no major technological issues.
“Organizing HarritMUN has truly been the greatest challenge of my high school career. After almost a year of planning, the conference was stimulating for me, both as an organizer as well as a chair for the crisis committee” says Placidet.
During the awards ceremony, delegates were invited to listen to a UN speaker secured by Harriton senior Olivia Kim. The speaker, Christine Cool, is a humanitarian aid in Yemen working for the UN. She works on the ground as part of UN Resident Coordinator Lise Grande’s team. Specifically, Cool works with media outreach and connections.
Overall, the conference was a success.
“I didn’t really know what to expect going into this since I’ve never done anything like this before,” Camille explains, “but it worked out so much better than I could have expected!”
Even though it was a completely new format, the students worked hard to make it work. Will HarritMUN be a “one-time thing”? In any case, this first conference paved the way for Harriton Model UN!