PMHS Model UN club brings schools to virtual meet to solve that Montague-Capulet problem (among others)

Pelham Memorial High School hosted the annual winter conference of its Model UN club (PelMUN) on Dec. 19 virtually for the first time in its 15-year history.

The Model UN club came up with unique problems that had to be discussed and resolved by each of the different “committees” at the annual conference, a system that is meant to resemble the way the United Nations works. Fifty delegates from five different schools met virtually for the PMHS winter conference.

During the conference, there were four committees:

  • The Romeo and Juliet crisis: Delegates acted as members of the Montague and Capulet houses to determine the fate of their city, in a scenario based on “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare.
  • French Revolution: In this committee, participants acted as crucial figures in the French Revolution of the 18th Century.
  • Clone Wars JCC: Delegates acted as members of both the Old Republic and Separatists fighting for control of the galaxy in a crisis based on the “Star Wars” franchise.
  • Soviet Union SA: In this committee, delegates represented different nations following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

In each committee, the delegates debated to try to resolve the crisis their committee was faced with, after it was presented to them by one of the organizers of the committee.

According to PMHS Model UN Treasurer Caleb Persanis, the delegates from different schools worked together ethically. “They always work to find a solution and make sacrifices and compromises along the way, which is a crucial life skill that I don’t think is used enough in modern times,” said Persanis.

One of the ways the virtual platform changed the way Model UN functions was that the committees retained some of their authenticity, said Thomas Roche, president of PelMUN. Roche said the committees had to use the features on Zoom to attempt to “imitate a normal conference.”

(Roche is managing editor/news of the Pelham Examiner.)

Still, Persanis and fellow club member Sophia Leung said the conference was productive.

The PMHS group doesn’t only solve made-up challenges. It engages in philanthropic activities to help solve real problems. During the conference, $10 donations were collected from delegates for the World Kitchen Charity.

Leung is vice president of PMHS Model UN. Her job involves leading committees, planning conferences, organizing fundraisers and training sessions, and trying to promote the involvement of younger members. She said that Model UN teaches more than merely resolving fictitious crises and that parallels can be drawn between crisis resolution and how people handle everyday issues.

“A lot of what I’ve learned from conferences has actually been very applicable outside of MUN,” she said. “As delegates, we have to make sure that we’re unquestionably clear in our requests, and that we are doing our best to appeal to everyone we want to work with. That same level of diplomacy is increasingly useful in every conversation I have, whether it be about politics or a group project for class.”

A member since freshman year, Leung, now a PMHS senior, said the most important lesson she has learned from PelMUN is that “it’s important to take pride in what you have to say, whether or not you believe someone else will argue with it. As long as you get your ideas out there, someone will respond, and that’s how productive discussion starts.”

(Leung is deputy managing editor of the Pelham Examiner.)

The next home conference for PelMUN is MilSim, a collaboration with the PMHS Military Club. Until then, PelMUN will be training new members in preparation for future conferences. The members hope to attend several college conferences this spring, and in the meantime, will continue to search for fundraising opportunities.