Students go to Harvard for United Nations simulation
Date: 2/21/2011Feb. 21, 2011
By Sommer Mahoney
Special to Reminder Publications
WILBRAHAM From Jan. 27 to 30, 11 students from Wilbraham & Monson Academy (WMA) represented Trinidad and Tobago in the United Nations simulation organized by Harvard undergraduate students. Eight more served with special committees and agencies. Students from schools in 21 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 34 countries took part in the four-day conference.
The Harvard Model United Nations (HMUN) is one of the oldest and most detailed U.N. simulations in the world. After 15 weeks of study and preparation, WMA students again made the trip to Boston. This year, most students formed the delegation from Trinidad and Tobago in the General Assembly, discussing current issues such as international response to natural disasters, the role of health and education in development and the rights of ethnic and religious minorities.
However, WMA was also lucky enough to send students as members of the press corps, select NGO's, a regional body and specialized agencies. Eva Landers of Palmer, represented NBC, and Jack Viens of Wilbraham represented the Associated Press in HMUN press corps. They spent their time racing from committee to committee, interviewing delegates, taking videos, snapping pictures, and writing articles for the HMUN Web site. Teresa Kennedy of Wilbraham, played the role of the International Red Cross NGO, Emma Bourgeois of Wilbraham represented the International Peace Institute, and Heather Little of Wilbraham represented Goodwill Industries International. These NGO representatives spoke before hundreds of delegates, explaining their roles and offering help to numerous nations.
Sommer Mahoney of Springfield is a veteran delegate. She has attended three Model United Nations simulations at Harvard, and one at Clark University earlier this year. Mahoney was the first delegate from WMA to sit on a regional body at HMUN, where she represented the Bishopric of Osnabruck in the Peace of Westphalia committee. She wrote and passed resolutions, worked with 50 other delegates to solve crises, and held a Hapsburg princess hostage from the rest of the committee.
Casey Berg and Jeannette Viens, both of Wilbraham, were assigned to two Specialized Agencies. Berg worked on the Privy Council of Queen Elizabeth I as the Queen's Spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham, and helped keep the Queen safe through her effective use of spying, forgery, clever alliance-making (and dueling skills).
Viens earned the award of Outstanding Delegate by her committee staff for her work on the Ad-Hoc committee. She was told two weeks before the conference that she would represent the Sinaloa drug cartel as Ismael Zambada Garcia, one of the richest and most influential Mexican drug lords. After being wakened at 2 a.m. for a crisis meeting, Viens took the island of Cuba under her personal control later that afternoon.
Of the experience at her third simulation, Viens said, "This is by far the most interesting committee I have been on at the HMUN conference. For one thing, I had to research and learn enough about Ismael Zambada Garcia, drug cartels and drug trafficking in general so that I could truly represent them and act as if I was a real drug lord, which is not easy. Finding reliable information was difficult and confusing and if the FBI were ever to look through my computer's history, they would probably have grounds to arrest me or at least be relatively freaked out." Viens hopes to use her negotiating skills in a career in international affairs.
Accompanying the students to the conference were their teachers for the half-year course, WMA faculty members Gary Cook and Gina Markowski.
Founded in 1804, WMA is a day and boarding school of 345 students in grades six through postgraduate. The academy is dedicated to preparing students for successful competitive college admission and facing the challenge of global citizenship and leadership through the study of economics, entrepreneurship, and global studies. Sommer Mahoney is a member of Wilbraham and Monson Academy's graduating class of 2011.