Decorum! JAMUN at BCA

Elise High


Sophomores on the JAMUN Secretariat at the conference (from left to right): Aki Dhadda, Christina Xue, Caitlin Chan, Angela You

This weekend, over one hundred middle schoolers flooded through the doors of Bergen Academies. Why, you may ask? They participated in JAMUN, the Junior Academy Model United Nations Conference. In preparation for this event, the Academy Chronicle recently spoke to four sophomores that are responsible for making what was once an idea, reality. The four sophomores are Angela You, Christina Xue, Aki Dhadda, and Caitlin Chan. They are all members of the Secretariat, the planning and leadership committee of the conference. All are highly qualified to hold such a position as just sophomores as, combined, they have participated in Model UN since freshman year, won numerous awards at college Model UN conferences, are members of various clubs, and, as any good BCA student, are devoted to their studies. With JAMUN, they hope to ignite a love of debate, current events, and international affairs in the attending middle schoolers .

Academy Chronicle: What is JAMUN? 

Angela You: JAMUN stands for Junior Academy Model UN, and it is a novice conference and workshop hybrid for middle schoolers. Delegates will not only learn how Model UN and parliamentary procedure works, but also apply those skills to real debate topics and committee simulations.

Christina Xue: Middle schoolers from all over Bergen County can attend to get a feel for what Model UN is like and exposes them to international affairs and issues occurring on a global scale.

 “A good idea to expose students to Model UN at an earlier age so they could enhance their debate and public speaking skills before high school starts.”

When did the idea for JAMUN first come up?

CX: The BCA Model UN team has mentioned the prospect of creating a middle school conference for a while, but the idea for JAMUN became solidified when the BCA delegation attended a high school Model UN conference in New York City.

AY: We encountered middle schoolers from Horace Mann (a prep school in New York) at Dalton MUN, a high school conference run by the Dalton School. Horace Mann, which is a K-12 school, introduces MUN to middle schoolers early on to help cultivate interest and long-term skills.

CX: The middle schoolers from these schools attended the high school conference to get Model UN experience before officially joining the team in high school, and we thought it would be a good idea to expose students to Model UN at an earlier age so they could enhance their debate and public speaking skills, as well as explore international policies and develop an interest in Model UN, or other related extracurriculars, before high school even starts. We think that JAMUN would be a great introduction to Model UN and stimulate students to research international affairs and keep up to date with events happening around the world.

AY: Since there is no major middle school conference in the Bergen Country area, a few members of BCA MUN decided to try the idea out and see where it went.

Aki Dhadda: This year myself and the other members of the Secretariat really took initiative to start JAMUN since we knew it would be such an amazing opportunity for middle schoolers in the Bergen County area.

How did you get involved? 

Caitlin Chan: I really wanted the conference to become not just something that was spoken about but a reality. I saw the opportunity to introduce middle school students to a great activity that can last them through their high school years.

CX: I have been on the Model UN travel team since Freshman Year, and I was one of the first people to develop and foster the idea of JAMUN. I have always been passionate about Model UN, and happily seized this opportunity to help younger kids find a passion they may have for MUN.

AD: I was a part of the early group of people trying to start this great opportunity along with other students including Angela, Christina, and Caitlin and the faculty advisor, Ms. Buccino and Mr. Kramer.

What’s your role?  

AY: I am the Director of External Affairs alongside Christina Xue for JAMUN. Our responsibilities were to contact, recruit, and maintain relations with schools for the conference. From emailing principals to mailing out over 50 paper invitations, it was a really hands-on job that required lots of commitment, while being very enjoyable at the same time. I was also heavily involved in selecting chairs for the JAMUN committees.

CX: As Angela said, I am the Director of External Affairs on Secretariat. We were in charge of interviewing chairs for JAMUN, contacting schools in the New York and New Jersey regions, sending out invitations, corresponding with school advisors, doing country and committee assignments, and staying in touch with the rest of Secretariat and JAMUN staff.

AD: I am the Director of Fundraising, but I also have done work preparing for the conference, including advertising it and making the promotional video.

Do you think being involved in JAMUN has added to your MUN experience thus far? 

AY: Planning a conference is extremely different from attending one, but it has been a great experience overall. Being on Secretariat has taught me a whole new set of skills, such as how to communicate with adults more effectively and increased time management. I definitely now have a greater appreciation for the work that goes into preparing for a conference.

CX: Yes, I definitely think JAMUN has added to my MUN experience. JAMUN is the first conference where I am helping to run and plan the conference, rather than being a delegate researching for a topic. It has helped me prepare for next year’s AMUN, and provided a sense for what planning an event like JAMUN entails. I know what to look for in a chair, and how to correspond with a plethora of people, whether it be delegates, chairs, or advisors.

AD: Yes, I have been able to see model UN conferences from a different perspective. Usually, I am delegate, but now I am part of the team putting the conference together. It is a big change.

CC: Yes, definitely. It’s cool being on the other side of things and actually getting to organize the conference rather than participate as a delegate.

How did you get into Model UN? 

AY: I first started Model UN in fifth grade at a summer camp, and eventually joined the BCA MUN Travel Team in my freshman year. I have been going to high school and college conferences ever since, as well as organizing a few conferences myself as well.

CX: I got into MUN my freshman year, and I took the elective. At first, I thought it would just be a GPA booster, but over the past two years, I have developed a passion for Model UN, international affairs, debate, and public speaking that I continue to foster and use in my everyday life.

CC: I was a student in the elective in my freshman year, and after attending YMUN, I fell completely in love with it.

AD: I chose Model UN as my club based on recommendations from upper classmen, and I have not looked back since.

What is your Model UN experience thus far? 

CC: I’ve gone to over ten conferences, even one in Budapest.

AD: I have gone to six conferences and won five awards (one of each type and an extra honorable).

AY: I have attended numerous college and high school conferences, such as YMUN, AMUN, WAMUNC, PMUNC, and more. My awards include an Outstanding from PMUNC 2014, Best from AMUN 2015, Verbal from WAMUNC 2015, and an Outstanding from DMUN 2015.

CX: I have gone to various high school and college conferences, such as WAMUNC (verbal commendation), PMUNC, YMUN, DMUN (outstanding delegate), HOMMUNC (honorable delegate), AMUN (best delegate), and HeschMUN (best delegate).

“I hope they gain a sense of pride in their own voices.”

How do you think your experience contributes to the conference? 

AY: Having been to many conferences means that I have a pretty clear idea of what works and what doesn’t. I am using the flaws that I have seen at past conferences to make JAMUN even better. For example, we implemented a rigorous chair selection process in order ensure that all JAMUN chairs would be fully qualified and capable. The chair is the most important person in committee, and he or she can really make or break your Model UN experience.

AD: I know exactly how a model UN conference runs and that has helped me with the set up.

CX: I think my experience contributes to the conference because when interviewing the chairs, I could identify whether or not they knew correct parliamentary procedure and how to run committee. My experience with MUN has led me to this leadership position for JAMUN, since I know how Model UN works and planned this conference efficiently and accurately. Having this background in MUN made me appreciate and dedicate myself to this conference and its success even more.

If the middle schoolers can take one thing away from the conference, what would you want it to be? 

AY: If there is one thing that I want delegates to take away from the conference, I would want them to gain confidence in themselves. Middle school is a really socially volatile time for many people because everything is about fitting in. I want these delegates to know that it is great to be truly enthusiastic about something, even if it isn’t considered “cool” by certain people. Moreover, I hope they gain a sense of pride in their own voices, because that is one thing that our generation is lacking. If we want to cultivate tomorrow’s leaders, we need more events like JAMUN that will encourage kids to get out of their comfort zones and explore uncharted territory.

CX: I hope middle schoolers find something about Model UN they love, whether it be the public speaking, the international affairs, the resolution writing, or even everything. I hope they become motivated to continue to develop their passions and realize that so much goes on in this world, and it is important to open our eyes to the environment around us. Through JAMUN, I hope delegates will be inspired to continue MUN throughout high school, and applying it to their lives.

CC: Probably that Model UN is a life-long activity as there are so many parallels between MUN and daily life. People skills, negotiation skills, and impromptu speaking skills are capabilities you can carry with you through your whole life.

AD: Just to have fun. Model UN can be competitive and difficult, but at the end of the day, it is important to learn and have a good time.

“Making speeches, proposing and arguing for your resolution, and interacting with other delegates are all essential in Model UN, but these skills are carried on into the future.”

Why do you think they should get involved in MUN? How will it help them in the future? 

AD: MUN is a life changing experience and I think that if students learn how it works now, they will be more prepared as high schoolers. Also, they can just see if Model UN is something that they enjoy.

AY: Growing up, I was extremely timid and had trouble making my voice heard in many situations. However, MUN helped me to gain confidence in myself, and taught me that my voice matters. This is one of the key benefits of Model UN, which is why I think they should get involved in MUN. It teaches you a myriad of 21st century skills, including communication, interpersonal, and oratory abilities. It forces you to think outside of your normal constraints, especially if you are representing a country with unusual policies. MUN is a truly unique experience that anyone can learn a great deal from.

CX: I think students should participate in MUN because of the variety of skills obtained. Not only are delegates learning about global issues, they are making connections with other delegates from all over the country, and even the world. I have stumbled into so many familiar faces from previous conferences, and while a Model UN career may end at high school or college, these relationships will last a lifetime. Furthermore, public speaking skills, the ability to think on your feet, social skills, and knowledge of international affairs are all developed with Model UN. Making speeches, proposing and arguing for your resolution, and interacting with other delegates are all essential in MUN. But these skills are carried on into the future. Yes, one may never write a resolution again after his/her MUN career, but it’s the ability needed to write the paper that lives on. Numerous speeches, some practiced in advance, some made up on the spot, continuously hone and develop public-speaking abilities that will stay with a delegate for the rest of his/her life. MUN provides the threshold upon which various other abilities and skills are enhanced that are used for the rest of their lives. Also, MUN is fun! ☺