Mercersburg Academy

01/13/2018 | News release | Distributed by Public on 01/13/2018 12:13

Students Experiencing Model UN in New York City

Fourteen Mercersburg students are in New York City for the Columbia University Model United Nations Conference and Exposition (or CMUNCE-pronounced 'sea monkey'-for those in the know). This year's conference-widely known as one of the premiere Model UN events in the U.S. and the world-is the 17th renewal (hence the acronym 'CMUNCE XVII').

The event began Thursday evening, January 11, and runs through Sunday, January 14. Approximately 830 high-school students from six continents are taking part in 32 different committees, ranging in topic and scope from the House Un-American Activities Committee of the mid-20th century to the Hussite Revolution of the 1400s, the Obama presidential campaign of 2008, and joint crisis committees on the handover of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to China (where Mercersburg student delegates Aakash Koduru '20 and Sophia Divone '19 are on opposing sides as the chief justice of Hong Kong and Chinese Premier Li Peng, respectively).

Model UN is a simulation of governmental and international politics, with students assuming the roles of specific political figures, nations, or organizations. All 32 committees at Columbia are organized as 'crisis' committees, where participants prepare background and historical research in the personage of their character, and then often have to alter their positions and arguments based on fictional 'breaking news' events announced at seemingly random moments during the conference sessions.

'It's so gratifying to be able to take a number of interested and motivated students to Model UN,' says history faculty member and Model UN adviser Allison Stephens, who is on the trip with fellow faculty member Lee Owen. 'The students always get really excited about the experiences they have with other kids talking about global issues and working with other kids to solve problems.'

'I always look forward to the Model UN trip; we have a great group and have a lot of fun together,' says Henry Mitchell '18, who is taking part in his third Columbia Model UN conference, and will serve on the Ad-Hoc Committee of the Secretary General (a selective role open only to experienced delegates). 'It's a really great opportunity to learn about history and to improve your public speaking skills while having fun at the same time.'

Mitchell's sister, Julia '18, is a fellow Model UN veteran and taking part in a joint crisis committee (or JCC) on the Western Schism, where she will portray the cardinal of Toulouse. 'There will be three independently running committees, each making decisions that directly impact the crisis on hand,' she says. 'I want to challenge myself to speak more confidently and integrate myself into the decision-making process.'

Of the 14 students on the trip, nine have previously participated in Model UN: both Mitchell siblings, Koduru, and Divone, as well as Yasemin Celikoyar '19, Ben Hedstrom '19, Kevin Lee '20, Hunter Roberts '19, and Jacob Somer '19. Other student delegates taking part include Chris Fazekas '18, Andrew Howe '18, Jack Kothari '20, Grace Lewis '20, and Gary Zheng '20.

More information about the conference can be found at