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Long Island high schoolers empowered by Model U.N.

Long Island high schoolers empowered by Model U.N.

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Turley

Long Island high schoolers solved real-world problems at Hofstra University’s Model United Nations (U.N.) Conference (HUMUNC) this past weekend. Students from as far west as Brooklyn and as far east as Sayville gathered at Hofstra from Friday, March 1, to Sunday, March 3, to discuss major issues like those tackled by the United Nations every day.

Secretary-General Dara Gleeson and Undersecretary-General Alexa Osner presided over this year’s HUMUNC, which saw six committees – each led by a member of the Hofstra Model United Nations Club. These committees included the Social, Cultural and Humanitarian Committee (SOCHUM), chaired by Daniela Guido; the Future Crisis Committee, chaired by Nick Bekker and directed by Gopal Khandelwal; the Economic and Financial Committee (ECOFIN), co-chaired by Joseph Tyrie and Justin Burgess; the Historical Crisis Committee, chaired by Landri Kennedy and directed by Charles Timm; the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (SPECPOL), chaired by Mike Roller; and the Food and Agriculture Organization Committee (FAO), which was chaired by Miranda Maliszka.

Each of the committees met for two hours on Friday, seven on Saturday and an additional three on Sunday to come to resolutions about a diverse range of topics, including the Thirty Years War, the economic future of oil-based economies and the colonization of Mars.

Not all settlements were optimal. Alexis Tendilla, a senior from the East-West School of International Studies in Flushing served on the Future Crisis Committee as the delegate from South Korea. 

“We took a few turns but weren’t able to come to a resolution because two countries intervened by invading the area,” he said. “The United States and France decided to invade Kashmir (a territory disputed by India and Pakistan), and we ended up with a nuclear war.”

SOCHUM came to a more peaceful resolution, said Anna Bingham, a sophomore at South Side High School in Rockville Centre. “It took us all three days to come up with a resolution on our first topic, which was the placement of refugees. I was El Salvador, so it worked out in [my country’s] favor.”

Steve Almachi, a freshman from the East-West School, was among the delegates who served on HUMUNC’s inaugural FAO committee, which discussed food security as well as agricultural development. 

“It was the first year that they did the FAO here, so I got a lot of feedback from delegates,” said Maliszka, a sophomore environmental resources and geographic information systems double major who chaired the FAO. “They made a motion to combine both topics, so then they plowed through that – we passed four out of five resolutions, I believe. And then we made resolutions for our crises, which was really good. I couldn’t have asked for a better delegation for my first committee.”

Hofstra’s Model U.N. Club advisor and professor of Political Science Paul Fritz, spoke at the conference’s opening ceremony. 

“Individual empowerment and empowerment of young people is real. It’s here. Use it as much as you can to affect change for what you consider to be most important.”

As overseers of the conference, the secretary-general and undersecretary-general observed the students’ knowledge and work ethic.

“On the first day of the conference, everybody was so prepared that they were moving, at one point, too fast. We thought that they would be done within the first day, out of a three-day conference,” said Gleeson, a junior community health major. “So it’s always amazing to see how much work they put in and then how much effort and work that they put in actually when they get here as well.”

“It’s just really cool to see the dynamics in the room and how [the high schoolers] really step into the role once they get there,” said Osner, a sophomore public policy and history double major. “They’re so nervous beforehand – some people have never done it before, or they feel like they’re unprepared – but they step into the roles so well and so naturally.”

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