Refections on the Virtual Cornell Model UN Conference

April 15-18th, 2021

Marvelwood sent a delegation of 13 students to the Cornell Model United Nations Conference (CMUNC 2021).  The virtual event, sponsored by the Cornell International Affairs Society, took place over four days in April. For this year's conference, organizers expanded the number of topics that normally formed the basis of the annual event. Assignments included international hypothetical scenarios as well as domestic political issues. The Marvelwood delegation represented various countries and organizations in a number of Specialized Committees and in the General Assembly. Faculty advisers Val Dumitrascu P'19 and Glenn Sanchez P'17, '19 worked with the delegates to prepare them for the conference. Both Mr. Dumistrascu and Mr. Sanchez have taken delegations to in-person conferences and were thrilled that students had the opportunity to participate in this dynamic conference. Two delegates share their reflections on the experience:

Isabella Brown ’21 

Assignment: Representative for the Hartford Chapter for ASHA for Education Committee 

Seeing as though I have never participated in Model UN prior to Cornell’s virtual conference, I was quite hesitant and nervous. I was chosen as the Hartford Chapter for the Asha for Education nonprofit committee. Right away, I was extremely impressed with my fellow committee members and their various propositions. When it came time to discuss in our unmoderated sessions, I found myself proposing a solution of my own that focused on the importance of mental health in adolescents. To my surprise, the proposal was well-received, allowing me to play an important role in writing our resolution papers. After three days full of laughter, conversation, and hard work, I had discovered that I had also made a new group of friends, each from a different part of the country. From day one, we had all shared the same passion and dedication in knowing that hundreds of children in India do not have access to basic education, as well as vital necessities. Learning about this specific nonprofit throughout the conference had opened my eyes, and made me realize that we often take a lot for granted. Even though it was solely virtual, Cornell’s Model UN did a fantastic job of raising awareness about dire topics such as this one. By the end of the weekend, I felt sad knowing that I had to say goodbye to everyone, and the many interesting committee sessions, however, I’m happy that I was fortunate enough to experience such a conference.

Aiden Cherniske ‘23

Assignment: Model UN Brief from the perspective of a Ukrainian diplomat

The Model United Nations has always been something I wanted to try during my time at Marvelwood.  I had heard about it in the past and it piqued my interest.  Mr. Dumitrascu asked our class if we wanted to participate and I knew this was my opportunity.  When my committee assignment came I dove right in; I was part of the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change representing Ukraine.  I knew VERY little about Ukraine prior to this project.  I can safely say that is no longer the case.  I read everything available to me on the Cornell website and I began drafting two purpose papers on my topics, Curbing Air Pollution and Priming against Global Warming and Natural Disasters.  Before starting this project, I had no idea just how much work it would be.  My papers helped formulate the research needed on the subjects.  I was nervous before it started, not because I wasn’t prepared; more because I didn’t know what to expect.

Model UN started Thursday night and I soon realized this was going to be really interesting and would take a lot of concentration to keep up.  Since it was virtual, we went to school Thursday and Friday and had ModelUN at night, which was difficult to balance.  Cornell transitioned the project from in-person to virtual relatively seamlessly.  I felt like they did a really good job of overcoming what could have been tremendous hurdles and I didn’t have any technical issues throughout the conference. The pace was fast. You could not step away from your computer during committee sessions at all and still keep up with the direction the conversations were going.  

Over the last two years, I’ve participated in Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) here at Marvelwood. If you were asked to describe the Model UN Conference to anyone, I would say it’s political D&D. Maneuvering within my committee reminded me of similar strategies we use in D&D.  Placing yourself into the shoes of a Ukrainian diplomat negotiating for change in a significant environmental global crisis felt like we were really at ground zero solving these problems.  The briefs we wrote as a group went to the heart of the issues at hand and the friendships I formed with other delegates in the four days were incredible.  I finished the weekend with a great feeling of accomplishment like we made a difference even though this was only a model.  I hope to participate again next year to receive the entire in-person experience.