By Luke Stone ’20
After two months of preparation and training, Woodberry’s Model UN Team traveled to Boston to attend HarvardMUN, one of the country’s largest conferences.
The journey began early Thursday morning, as team members, and faculty advisor Jairo Rivera arrived in front of the Post Office at 6:55 AM before departing for Reagan Airport at 7:00. As usual, accidents and traffic along the route lengthened the drive to DCA to two and a half hours. The traffic was, unfortunately, foreboding. In addition to a thirty-minute delay at the gate, the Tigers’ flight sat on the tarmac in inclement weather for another hour. Finally, at 1:15 (1 hour, 45 minutes after its scheduled departure), American Airlines Flight 2170 took off en route to Boston.
The delay in arrival at Logan Airport (and consequently the hotel) forced the boys to miss HMUN’s Opening Ceremony, but also gave them a chance to have some down time before committee sessions began. The team went to dinner in the Prudential Center, where Head Delegate Agus Tornabene ‘19 gave them some last minute pointers.
The first Committee Sessions began at 7:30 Thursday night. Kenny Ambiso ‘20 and Luke Stone ‘20 tackled Statelessness on the Legal Committee, Xiangnong Yu ‘19 and Oliver Ellis ‘22 discussed hybrid regimes on SPECPOL (Special Political and Decolonization Committee), Trevor Daniel ‘20 and Robert Caskey ‘22 debated the ethics of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems on DISEC (Disarmament and International Security Committee), Tim Pouring ‘21 discussed corporate accountability in the developing world on the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN), Henry Dworkin ‘20 talked about migration on the International Organization on Migration (IOM), and Tornabene turned Spain into a communist, Catholic republic on the Summit on the Creation of a European State.
“I was most impressed by Tim Pouring’s performance in his committee,” Tornabene said. “It seemed like he was able to navigate voting blocs and speak fairly well. He had a very good awareness of what was going on in committee, which is very rare in a guy his age.”
The delegates enjoyed a much needed sleep-in on Friday morning and were free to explore Boston with other team members. While most chose to keep their ventures close to the Marriott in Back Bay, Tornabene and Stone walked to the Boston Common before eating lunch in a pizza parlor. By 2:30, all the boys were back in their committee sessions, where voting blocs began forming. Because most Woodberry delegates were representing Sierra Leone, a West African nation hit hard by civil war and the Ebola Outbreak earlier this century, they tended to join blocs with other developing nations. In the Friday evening session, Committees began drafting working papers addressing their assigned topic.
Saturday morning’s sessions saw the final touches to working papers and the submission of draft resolutions. When the committees reconvened in the afternoon for the conference’s longest session (ranging from three hours forty-five minutes to four hours fifteen minutes), the draft resolutions’ sponsors introduced resolutions, fielded questions, and debated their legislation before voting to wrap up the most daunting portion of the conference.
Following the Saturday afternoon Committee session, the boys had their longest block of unstructured free time. In addition to the Conference offerings, the “Cultural Extravaganza,” Movie Night, and Delegate Dance, Woodberry’s team members were allowed to enjoy a night out with each other. The students who went to the Delegate Dance stayed close for dinner, while others went to dinner farther from the hotel. Some even took a baseball-themed pilgrimage to the historic Fenway Park and its surrounding neighborhood.
Tornabene said he believed that the conference was a positive experience for the Model UN Program.
“I think delegates got a really good look at what it’s like to be in a huge Committee and saw how hard it can be to have people notice that you’re saying things worth listening to,” Tornabene said. “Most importantly, I think they started to understand the subtleties and nuances of committee politics and what that entails, which I think is very important for their development.”
In addition to being pleased with how the Woodberry team members carried themselves, Tornabene was also impressed with how much the trip stimulated bonding among the boys.
He said, “My favorite memory from the trip comes from Friday night, right before my midnight crisis committee meeting. It was about 11:30 or 12:00, and we were all just hanging out in each others’ rooms and spending time with each other, which was shockingly similar to what we would have done had we been on dorm that night at Woodberry. I thought it was really special to see that the Woodberry brotherhood made the team united enough to the point where that [bonding effect] carried over into hotel rooms in a city none of us lived in.”