JSC becomes Eritrea at Harvard Model UN

Eight members of JSC’s Model United Nations club traveled to Boston to attend the Harvard National United Nations (HMUN) conference in Boston Feb 13-15.

Model United Nations teams from schools around the world convened at the Hynes Convention Center, where each school group was assigned a country, and each group separated into different committees to research and discuss different issues in their assigned country.

JSC’s Model United Nations club was assigned Eritrea, a very small nation on the Horn of Africa, bordered by Sudan, Ethiopia, and Djibouti.

David Plazek, JSC associate professor of humanities, as well as the faculty advisor for the Model UN and organizer of the Harvard trip, explained that the conference simulates what happens at actual United Nations meetings, just in a more relaxed way.

“It’s a simulation, so the stakes aren’t the same,” Plazek said. “But it does provide an opportunity to practice the way they actually run the UN and their separate committees.”

It wasn’t all work and no play, however. Between committee meetings, there were events such as a dance, a casino night, and an international bazaar with foods from around the world.

“It’s a mind-blowing experience to watch young people get so much out of something and to be so appreciative of this opportunity,” Plazek said, “to meet people all over the world who are energetic and intelligent and interested in making a difference in a positive way.”

The student members of the Model UN were enthusiastic about the experience as well.
Paul Massey, a sophomore, was a co-delegate of Eritrea’s Disarmament and International Security Committee.

“It was wonderful,” he said. “The Harvard Model UN conference is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, model UN conferences in the world, and they pull students from over 60 countries. And being able to socialize and meet with that many students… is absolutely fantastic, because you get to meet so many new people and make friendships all over the world.”

Massey explained that it’s much more “low-key and rowdy” than the actual United Nations conferences, because, after all, it’s a bunch of college students.

John Dabrowski, Model UN club president, head delegate of the team, and co-delegate of Eritrea’s Legal Committee, explains what it’s like interacting with the other students from around the world.:“You’re both looking towards the same goal, but you’re coming at it from different directions, so you learn to kind of see both sides and compromise… the more interesting thing is you’ll meet someone from halfway around the world who shares your view.”

Massey recalled his favorite part of the trip.

“My favorite part of the trip…. it was when we first got to the hotel room…” he said. “We were up on the 31st floor of a 38-floor hotel, and we opened the curtains, and the view was just breathtaking over Boston.”

Plazek guessed that there were, at a minimum, over 1,000 people at the conference, although he said he isn’t sure of the exact number.

According to Massey, the size of the trip was limited by the amount of money available to fund it.

“Because of our lack of funding, we can only have a small group that goes,” he said.

Out of the entire JSC Model UN club, only eight people were able to attend the conference.

“What’s disappointing is our lack of funding actually ends up harming us in the committees, and overall during the conference,” Massey said, “because we’re such a small group… so we get stuck with the really small countries that can’t really converse a whole lot, and don’t get to commit too much to the actual committee.”

According to Plazek, the trip itself cost a few thousand dollars. Most of the funding came from President Barbara Murphy, and the group also received some assistance from the SGA.

“If we could get more funding for the club, we would get better countries,” Massey said. “We would be more represented in committees, a lot more people would be able to experience the thrill that is going to the HMUN conference; and we would have to worry less about expenses when we actually got there.”

The consensus among the club members, as well as their faculty advisor, seems to be that the whole experience was well worth the cost.

“It’s fun, but it’s also an experience like nothing else,” Plazek said. “It’s a worthwhile thing for our students.”