THE BUZZ: D.C. hears from Western youth, Model UN students invited to participate in Washington

By on March 31, 2015
Students Jackson traveled to Washington, D.C., last week for the Model UN Conference. While there, students toured DC and the White House. (Photo credit: Lina collado / Courtesy IC21)

Students Jackson traveled to Washington, D.C., last week for the Model UN Conference. While there, students toured DC and the White House. (Photo credit: Lina collado / Courtesy IC21)

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – The White House, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall and U.S. Senator Mike Enzi’s office were all just icing on the cake for 20 area high school students who traveled to Washington, D.C., last week. The real show was the Washington Area Model United Nations Conference — a conference as steeped in tradition as its host school, George Washington University. The 20 students representing Jackson Hole High School, Jackson Hole Community School and the Journeys School, were chosen by the D.C. committee and joined more than 3,000 delegates in the nation’s capital hosted by George Washington University International Affairs Society at the Omni Shoreham. Some walked away honored with awards, but all walked away with an experience that will serve them well beyond the boundaries of the Tetons.

The D.C. experience was a first for the Teton County Model UN Club, said Lina Collado, program associate for InterConnections 21, the nonprofit that supports the group. As a chaperone to D.C., Collado said the event elevated the local Model UN experience as students worked alongside a diverse international group of other students.

“Not only does it expand the experience that much more from [Teton County] into something national, they also have to debate with students from all over the world,” noted Collado, who has also travelled with students to Philadelphia and New York City for conferences.

Jackson Hole High School sophomore Anna Gibson admires the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. (Photo credit: Lina collado / Courtesy IC21)

Jackson Hole High School sophomore Anna Gibson admires the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. (Photo credit: Lina collado / Courtesy IC21)

Collado said a conference like the one in D.C. is not for beginners, which can really push students. Every student raised their hands during the conference and participated, she said. Students worked hard drafting position papers and defending their resolutions. The fact that some of the students walked away with awards is a testament to their hard work.

This year’s roster boasted a diverse set of schools, including delegations hailing from the local Washington metropolitan area, and the United Nations International Schools in New York City, South Africa, Panama, Greece and Mexico.

Each fall, InterConnections 21sponsors the Teton County Model United Nations Conference, which attracts students from across Wyoming and Idaho. There, and also with the D.C. conference, each student represents a country. The student also participates in a committee that simulates a UN body and is comprised of delegates representing countries assigned to them by the conference organizers. In each committee, students deliberate global issues, create solutions in the form of resolutions, and strive to convince other delegates to pass these resolutions.

In late October last year, students went through a rigorous application process and were selected by a Washington Area Model United Nations Conference Selection Committee. From November until the third week in March, students met with their Model UN trainers every week to properly research their committees, write their position papers, and prepare to debate as either countries or historical figures.

Assigned topics and figures ranged from the Russian mafia, the West Wing, Mao’s Cultural Revolution group and John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1960.

The Jackson delegation received two awards. Jackson Hole Community School student Honora Verdone won for Verbal Recognition on the Organisation Européenne pour la Recherche Nucléaire Committee, and Walter Thulin, also with the Community School, earned an Honorable Mention on the International Criminal Court Committee.

Accordingly, the secretariat, staff and speakers endeavored to show delegates that the knowledge they gained and the skills they learned in their committees could translate into the “real” world.

Walter Thulin, a junior at Jackson Hole Community School, addresses his committee, International Criminal Court, representing Prosecutor Hong. Assigned topics at the DC Model UN included the Russian mafia, the West Wing, Mao’s Cultral Revolution group and John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign. (Photo credit: Lina collado / Courtesy IC21)

Walter Thulin, a junior at Jackson Hole Community School, addresses his committee, International Criminal Court, representing Prosecutor Hong. Assigned topics at the DC Model UN included the Russian mafia, the West Wing, Mao’s Cultral Revolution group and John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign. (Photo credit: Lina collado / Courtesy IC21)

From the start, the message of the conference was a call to action — the idea that the work delegates would do and the discussions they would engage in over the course of the weekend would go beyond the confines of the conference and the walls of the hotel.

The conference’s various philanthropic initiatives were just one of these calls to action through the charity Instituto Mundo Libre, an organization based in Peru that provides prevention and rehabilitation programs for high-risk youth. This year, each committee was motivated to raise money and win a “free breakfast” during their last conference day. Through participating in this philanthropic endeavor, delegates were able to make a concrete difference in the global community and learn about ways in which they can continue to do so post-conference.

There was also time for exploring the city. The first morning in the District the group toured the White House. The students and chaperones then made their way to several memorials including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Martin Luther King Memorial and Korean War Veterans Memorial. The Jackson group was then able to tour the Capitol building and visit Sen. Enzi’s office. At the senator’s office students were able to speak with one of his staffers about several current events and their Model UN conference.

Also, while in Washington some of the students were able to take college tours, Collado said. Additionally, she said, each night the students ate at various ethnic restaurants around the city fully digesting the spirt of the trip.

Jackson Hole High School senior Noelle Johnson and her committee Mao’s Cultural Revolution Group, representing Chinese political leader, Wang Renzhong. (Photo credit: Lina collado / Courtesy IC21)

Jackson Hole High School senior Noelle Johnson and her committee Mao’s Cultural Revolution Group, representing Chinese political leader, Wang Renzhong. (Photo credit: Lina collado / Courtesy IC21)

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