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Diplomacy in Action
Posted 12/11/2018 03:54PM

SJP MUN XIII a success!

St. John’s 13th annual Model UN Conference was a resounding success thanks to a little help from some friends

THE ESSENTIALS:  SJP MUN XIII with a conference-record 639 delegates representing 49 schools convened at the Prep on Saturday, December 8, 2018, to conduct structured negotiation and debate centered upon 15 student-crafted briefing papers. As conference co-hosts, students from Wellesley’s Dana Hall school shared in preparing the briefing papers. Gerald Hinch '19 made this video with highlights from the day. Thanks to Joe DiBlasio '17 for these photos.

KEYNOTE REMARKS: Michael Niconchuk ’07, an Innovation Fellow for Beyond Conflict, a Boston-based think tank inspired everyone with these keynote remarks. Niconchuk was among the first members of Model UN at St. John's. Club member Gerald Hinch ’19 recorded the remarks in advance of the conference because Niconchuk was on a flight to Nairobi, Kenya, Saturday, where he will spend the next few weeks helping to re-assimilate former al-Shabaab operatives who have renounced violence. A Tufts graduate, Niconchuk holds a master’s in Social Cognition as a Fulbright Scholar at University College London, and has spent seven years working with post-conflict and displaced communities in Latin America and the Middle East.

POINTS IN QUESTION: Delegates dealt with wide-ranging, global intergovernmental challenges, addressing issues like the rights of stateless persons amidst refugee conflicts, a nuclear Iran, the EU and Brexit, the proliferation of plastics pollution, tariffs and the World Trade Organization, and common sense gun policies in the United States, to name just a few.

STUDENT TAKEAWAYS: “The main point I took away from Mike’s remarks were that it’s one thing to have the facts and information about the problems to debate over, but it is more important to be there to know how people feel and see firsthand what people are experiencing,” said Jaromin. “I was also interested to hear his view that having desire and conviction behind what you’re saying can be just as important as the facts that supports your position.”

“My biggest takeaway from Mike’s remarks was the importance of personal connections with others,” added Goodwin. “Mike also mentioned Model UN taught him that the confidence and demeanor you speak with is just as important as what you actually say. I’m personally inspired by the fact that the diplomacy and knowledge of international politics I am developing through MUN today will serve me in the future.”

MODERATOR’S POINT OF VIEW: “Probably the most important skill students gain through Model UN is learning to identify and ask substantive questions—the questions that go to the heart of an issue and invite all delegates to enter into the conversation. That’s what shapes the student journey,” says social studies teacher and Model UN Club moderator Pamela Bronder-Giroux. “The students did brillia work—the topics were excellent, the papers were well done, and the delegates were well prepared, including the middle schoolers. More than anything, I was so proud to see the kindness our student chairs extended to all of the delegates, encouraging those who were shy or quiet, and helping everyone rise to the occasion. Structuring the debate and knowing rules of procedure are important to nurturing fruitful debate, but it is compassion for fellow delegates that matters most.”

KEY CONSTITUENTS: Club Secretary General Zach Jaromin ’19; President Conner Goodwin ’19; Vice President Patrick Conlan ’19; Committee Chairs Gerald Hinch ’19, Brendan O’Friel ’21, Jack Dubow SJP ’21, Michael Villani ’21, Nick DeMarco ’21, Max McAuliffe ’20, Brett Butler ’21, William Boemer ’21; Dana Hall Chairs Sophia Miettinen-Garrett, Bink Vijitkasemkij, and Lily Rashes; Joint Chairs Nicole Taylor and Lindsey Gilfeather.

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