Megan Gentile and Gemma Sampas
This past March, the Holliston High School Model United Nations attended Boston College’s EagleMUNC conference.
Led by seniors Nate Haywood, Jacob Winn, and Kit Nguyen, and faculty advisor Mr. Kevin Zahner, the club attended the conference hosted by Boston College. It took place at the Westin Copley Place Hotel in Boston from on March 17th through March 19th.
At the conference, students collaborated with peers and explored different committees to simulate the United Nations, an intergovernmental organization. The conference’s aim was to have participants assume the position of politicians and discuss global issues.
“We have different conferences that will be added to and each person will have to debate or push for legislation that their country will support to try to fix whatever international crisis is going on,” said Haywood.
According to the EagleMUNC website, the theme for this year’s event was “The Interplay of Power and Ethics.” Holliston’s chapter had yet to be assigned a country before the event, and did not know the extent of the role they would have at the conference.
“It’s kinda hard because we don’t know what conferences we’ll be a part of and what country we’ll get, so we don’t know if we’ll be important [or] kind of on the sidelines… we don’t really have enough information yet,” said Haywood before the event.
The club had been preparing for the big trip by holding mini conferences and attending smaller conferences at local schools.
“We have mini conferences once a month, so we’ve always got those going,” said Haywood. “We went to St. John’s this year, so we’re kind of just ramping it up so we can get to a point where we can go to BC.”
Mr. Zahner had confidence that his students were ready for the event. “It consists of abbreviated versions of the kinds of debates that are practiced at larger more official conferences. Plus, many of the members have been to conferences in the past and do a great job mentoring the less experienced students,” he said.
The club also had to plan out the finances of the conference and made efforts to fundraise as much as they could.
“We’ve been reaching out to local businesses with mixed results. It’s going to be about $250 a person for about three days. It’s just been local businesses and pulling together any fundraising events we can manage,” said Haywood.
This year was the first that Holliston’s Model UN had attended the BC conference, and although they have attended many other conferences in the past, this was the largest one yet.
“In the past, the club went to smaller conferences that only lasted a morning and afternoon. They are good conferences, and we will do more of them. This one is 40 hours. The students are required to sleep in the hotel where the conference is hosted, and the overall size of participation is much bigger than the day conferences,” said Mr. Zahner.
The club saw Boston as an opportunity to spread the word about Model UN and as a step in expanding their activity, while Mr. Zahner had hopes that EagleMUNC would help the students get a real understanding of hard work.
“I hope they experience what it’s like to work on something meaningful for extended periods of time. Of course, they will strengthen their argument and decision-makings skills, but I want them to walk away tired because they put a lot into the conference. I want them to feel the exhaustion of solving complex problems collaboratively,” said Mr. Zahner. “Life takes chops.”
From Haywood’s perspective, “This will kind of be the biggest event that UN has done, at least in my time here. It’s just cool to see that it’s branching out, and getting bigger, and actually being productive and being fun.”
In giving advice to students attending comparable events in the future, Mr. Zahner advises students to “Have fun. Be prepared. Be safe. Take risks. Learn from your mistakes. Meet people. It’s the ability to relate with your peers that will make the difference. These kinds of events allow students to reach beyond HHS to work with others and potentially make new friends.”