(Left to right) Freshman Jess Kravchenko and junior Siri Atluri pose with their country's signs before the Santa Teresa conference. (Photo courtesy of Atluri)

Model UN attends inaugural conference, preps for upcoming season

Three members of Country Day’s Model UN Club – junior Siri Atluri, freshman Jessica Kravchenko and sophomore Ryan Xu – attended an inaugural Model UN conference in Santa Teresa High School on Jan. 27 and Jan. 28.

Atluri won the best delegate award, which is the highest award that students can receive in Model UN. 

Xu won the outstanding delegate, which is the second-highest award students can earn. He credited the Model UN for boosting his public speaking skills. 

Atluri created the Model UN Club after transferring to Country Day over the summer.

“I decided to create the Model UN Club because I really liked the community aspect of it. Technically, I could just go to the conferences by myself, but I wanted to feel that same sense of community that I felt at my old school,” Atluri said. 

Model UN is a simulation of the United Nations that aims to assist students’ understanding about diplomacy and international relations through a geo-political issues problem-solving conference. 

Before the conference, students are assigned to a country and committee. At the conference, each committee tackles a different problem, and students must research their country’s stance on the problem and create a position paper.

Students convene with their committees and work for a solution with other countries that are represented by students from other schools. Within the committee, they form separate teams and present a resolution to vote on.

Atluri represented the country Algeria on the committee of Commission on the Status of Women. Kravchenko was also in Atluri’s committee representing Latvia. Xu represented Kazakhstan on the Disarmament and International Security Committee.

The club meetings prior to the conference helped the students learn tips on how to get their position papers ready, the basics of public speaking and how to work with others.

Atluri likes the concept of Model UN because of the importance of collaboration that is present.  

Although the competition is individual, students have to function as a team and show effective leadership. 

“There’s a lot of moderated caucuses, which is a one minute impromptu speech that you give,” Xu said. “I generally try to talk a lot in this, but it’s really hard to come up with a speech on a topic in one minute and deliver it clearly without making any errors and getting your point across.”

Kravchenko also enjoyed her experience attending her first conference. 

“I was a bit surprised and shocked. I have never seen so many people at my age wearing suits,” Kravchenko said. “There were only three of us from our school, and I actually liked it because it felt like we were going to the conference as a group of friends.” 

Along with making new connections, Atluri hopes to make Model UN an elective next year to gain more recognition. 

Atluri said she wants to create a community with people devoted to the club, allowing members to become close to those who they would not have interacted with before. 

History teacher and club adviser  Christopher Arns opens his classroom to the club members every Thursday during flex. 

Arns suggested to Atluri that she should host a conference at school for beginners. So, next year during the fall, Atluri hopes to organize a conference where beginners can come and learn in a low-stakes environment without stress. 

“I was very impressed with all the work that Siri, Ryan and Jess did in this conference,” Arns said.

He is extremely proud of how Atluri created the club and has shown the capacity for responsibility to organize everything.

Arns also finds it remarkable that Xu earned an outstanding award, despite it being his first time participating.

He commends Jess for getting immediately involved in the club and taking an active part in her first year at a new school. 

Although Arns wasn’t able to make it to the conference, high school art history teacher Liz Leavy pitched in by driving the students to the conference.

“I really want to thank Ms. Leavy. I’m really grateful and appreciative of her helping me,” Atluri said.

With Leavy’s help, Atluri felt less overwhelmed.

In the end, Atluri managed to lead Xu, Kravchenko and other Model UN club members in their first successful conference.

“I’m proud of the fact that I was even able to organize this conference, because a lot of the time I was worried that something would go wrong,” Atluri said. “But I felt so happy after the conference because the first thing I heard was ‘when are we going to do the next conference,’ and I realized that it was all worth it.”

The Cavalier MUN team will compete next at the University of California, Davis from May 20-21.

— By Anisha Mondal

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