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GFA Model United Nations Team Competes at 70th Harvard Conference

GFA Model United Nations Team Competes at 70th Harvard Conference

Twenty-two ninth and tenth-graders recently traveled to Boston to participate in the 70th annual Harvard National Model United Nations Conference. Anika Vaidheeswaran, Class of 2027, reflects on her first competition and how the experience went beyond debates and negotiations. 

“Last weekend, I was given the opportunity to attend the Harvard Model United Nations Global Conference in Boston, MA. Prior to this, I had never done anything related to Model UN before, so I was a little skeptical about how it would work and how I would fit in with kids who had been doing it for the past four years. However, it was a life-changing experience, to say the least. 

Two weeks before the conference, the Model UN Club was given their respective countries, committees, and topics. I was to represent Burkina Faso, a tiny nation on the coast of Africa. My committee was UNICEF (United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund) and my topics were child labor and child marriage. Each of us had to write a one-page position paper on our country's stance on the issues and what possible solutions there were to combat them. This allowed us to research our topics thoroughly and plan for the actual committee sessions. For me, the hardest part was not letting my personal beliefs coincide with what my country believes in. As a delegate, I was only supposed to talk about my country's beliefs and interests, not mine, which made the job harder. Additionally, the rates of child labor and child marriage are extremely high in Burkina Faso, and over the past ten years, they haven’t done much to address it. I was a little scared going into the committee representing a country that was pro-child labor and child marriage and I didn’t know how other delegates would react. Luckily, over half the delegates on my committee were in the same position and we were able to quickly form alliances and plan out how we would tackle our situation. During our committee sessions, I was able to form blocs, which are small groups of allies, with other small underdeveloped African countries, and take on a leadership role. Despite being the youngest on my committee, I was able to speak up and propose ideas alongside the more experienced delegates. 

Putting public speaking to the side, what truly left an impression on me were the close connections I was able to form. Over the four days, you make close friendships with people you have never met before and forge a bond, both in and out of committee sessions. I was able to establish friendships with people not only from the East Coast, but also from Paris, Dubai, Venezuela, London, Costa Rica, and many more! Being in a committee room with complete strangers for almost ten hours a day seemed daunting at first, but looking back on it, it was probably one of the highlights of my trip. I was extremely lucky to work with some amazing like-minded people on my committee and couldn't be happier that I got the chance to meet them. Despite running on five hours of sleep each day and walking around with feet wrapped in bandaids, I made memories with both old and new friends that I will never forget, and I am especially grateful for that. Those four days went by in the blink of an eye, but I’m glad I was able to take every moment in and appreciate the opportunities I was given.”