From February 7 to February 8, Bergen County Academies hosted the twentieth annual Academy Model UN conference (AMUN XX), with over five hundred student delegates and dozens of high schools in attendance. Delegates were assigned to fourteen different committees, each debating different international issues. From 20th century China to Harry Potter, students analyzed a variety of crises, working to come up with new policies and task forces to solve the problems at hand.
While the BCA Model UN team competes as delegates in conferences like Princeton Model UN (PMUN) and Yale Model UN (YMUN) throughout the year, AMUN is a special opportunity for BCA students to organize their own event as staff members, chairs, or members of the Secretariat. The conference is a product of the students’ commitment, passion, and months of diligent work.
“The Secretariat, chairs, and staff at AMUN are all incredibly passionate about not just MUN, but also making sure that the conference is a pleasant experience for everyone involved,” says Kaylyn Lu, who acted as one of the chairs in the conference’s World Health Organization (WHO). “I think that AMUN does a great job of creating a friendly, inviting environment for delegates to truly discuss the issues at hand and collaborate with one another rather than simply compete.”
Junior Sarah McIlroy also emphasized how the students’ dedication is reflected in the diversity of issues debated. “I believe that AMUN prides itself in how diverse its committees are. We offer everything from large double-delegation General Assemblies, to slightly smaller single-delegate Economic and Social Councils, to specialized committees, to crisis committees. When a conference has committees that vary from FIFA to the Ministry of Magic from Harry Potter to the Commission on the Status of Women, there is something that can suit everyone’s interests.”
For the members of the class of 2019, AMUN XX was an even more meaningful experience. Senior Nicole Gerzon, who was responsible for leading the conference as the Chargé D’Affairs, looked back fondly on her memories of MUN at the Academies. “Running AMUN is a great way to give back to the community,” she explained. “Being in a position to dictate the committees and the topics was really rewarding because this year AMUN was the vision of all the graduating seniors, and it came to life.”
AMUN is just one example of many different events hosted at BCA that demonstrate the students’ passion for the humanities. While the majority of the academies at BCA are STEM-based, it is important to remember that there are many opportunities at school for students to explore different, non-STEM-related interests.
According to Gerzon, AMUN can be an important introduction for many inexperienced delegates. “AMUN is necessary because while MUN club is amazing, it can’t really simulate a real conference.” She continued, “There’s a proven benefit in an education focused on humanities and I think Model UN is a great intro into critical thinking, people skills, public speaking, current events, and more.”
Sophomore Aaron Thammavongxay expanded on this sentiment. “I think it’s important for people to have knowledge in relationships between people. The ability to communicate effectively with others is a crucial skill. Having a program that encourages development of interpersonal skills and activities, is an important contribution to the BCA environment.”
AMUN’s goal to connect students and hone their skills as effective leaders, speakers, and thinkers seems to be a success.
Sophomore Laetitia Park explained that the best part of Model UN is the chance to connect with different people. “Even if we’re ‘competing’ with each other, it’s fun to get to know about them outside of their country policies. Model UN is great for improving public speaking and learning how to think on your feet.”
McIlroy stressed, “I could not be more appreciative of the skills I have developed and the memories I have made thanks to being a part of Model UN.”