About two dozen Flagler Palm Coast High School students left campus in two vans Thursday afternoon for Tallahassee, where they participating in the day-long Model United Nations conference at the State Capitol on Feb. 11. The Tallahassee Southern Model United Nations Conference is hosted by Tallahassee Community College. By day’s end, the team had won the Distinguished Delegate Award and taken three of the four awards for the required position papers on individual countries students wrote in pairs. From club president Ryan McDermott’s Facebook page: “Super proud as a President of Model UN FPCHS. Tony Kim, Michael Scerbo, Hannah Vakhovsky, [Jon Haydak], and my partner Kyle Russell won the Distinguished Delegate Award (2nd place) and we got 3 out of the 4 Position Papers straight out (Tracey and Kaitlyn, Liz and Larry, Kyle and I), the 4th was a tie that Charlie and David deserved! Bangladesh!!!”
Kyle Russell, a senior at FPC and a FlaglerLive contributor, blogged about the conference live throughout the day. The more recent posts appear at the top.
Before I begin blogging about the conference in Tallahassee, I thought it would be best to give an idea of what we’re doing up here for those not familiar with the club’s purpose and workings. The best summary likely comes from the conference’s website itself:
“In Model UN, students of almost all academic levels, step into the shoes of ambassadors from UN member states to debate current issues on the organization’s agenda. Students make speeches, prepare draft resolutions, negotiate with allies and adversaries, resolve conflicts, and navigate the conference rules of procedure – all in the interest of mobilizing “international cooperation” to resolve problems that affect countries all over the world.”
More specifically for Flagler-Palm Coast High School’s Model UN, we represent five nations: Bangladesh, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Ghana, and Spain. In different committees, including the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, and the Human Settlements Programme, we represent the stances of our respective nations in groups of two. Each committee covers two topics each, ranging from spreading information technology in developing nations to reforming the United Nations itself.
Friday, 9:30 p.m. —
Closing/award ceremony wrapping up, and our school cleared this conference out. Out of 4 total Best Position Paper Awards, Tracey Adams and Kaitlyn Gore (as Spain) received Best Position Paper for the General Assembly, Elizabeth Wang and Larry Tesler (as Spain) won Best Position Paper for UN-HABITAT, and Ryan McDermott and I (as Bangladesh) won for the Economic and Social Council. The Bangladesh Team, consisting of Jonathan Haydak, Hannah Vakhovsky, Tony Kim, and of course Ryan and myself, won Distinguished Delegation, the second highest honor a team can receive. Overall, a great ending to a very interesting day!
Friday, 7:49 p.m. —
The Economic and Social Council has become rather peaceful – the two major groups have negotiated a compromise, with both groups essentially offering supports for the other side’s resolution paper. There is one group remaining, consisting mostly of 8th and 9th graders, that is being left to the side due to the fact that they are merely recreating the Red Cross. As I type this, we’re about to finish debate and proceed to voting.
Friday, 7:01 p.m. —
We’re just arrived back for the evening session after a quick dinner of sausage pizza back at the hotel. In the Economic and Social Council, the group of nations that Bangladesh has decided to work with is one of only two groups that have submitted complete resolution papers (Ghana is working with the other group). Before we went away for dinner, the other group engaged in a series of rather intense verbal attacks against our group due to the fact that our resolution paper focused on natural disasters over man-made disasters. In an interesting twist of events, several other nations made speeches indicating that they agreed that the emphasis made our resolution stronger and that they were becoming sponsors for our resolution.
Friday, 3:41 p.m. —
After nearly two hours of writing resolution papers and discussions about the implementation of our plan, a trend has appeared in the discussions of funding disaster relief: most have misconceptions about how the World Bank and the United Nations work. Most of the younger delegates seem to base their recommendations on the assumption that the World Bank has unlimited funding and will lend to any and all comers. Alternatively, many of the older delegates have excellent ideas but forget that the United Nations cannot simply impose its will upon members. Dealing with these two misconceptions has been a major hurdle in gaining support for our plan, which is far more reality-based than the others being proposed.
Friday, 2:00 p.m. —
Both Bangladesh and Ghana have returned to our committee early so that we can get to negotiations before the formal process begins again. Australia has flip-flopped as to whether or not it will be a sponsor for our resolution, which is quite unnerving because they are our sixth sponsor and our director has stated that we must have at least six. As I was writing that last sentence, we found out that the delegate from Pakistan who told us that they would be a sponsor had not discussed this with her partner, so Ryan is going from country to country to recruit more sponsors despite having lost his voice.
Friday, 12:53 p.m. —
We’ve completed the morning session, and are now enjoying a brief break for lunch. In the Economic and Social Council, Bangladesh (my country) is working with Turkey, Argentina, Australia, Pakistan, and China to create a UN-sponsored organization that would create a unified system of disaster preparedness standards and evaluate disaster-prone areas for ways to mitigate the impact of future disasters. Meanwhile, Ghana (a pair of our school’s pre-IB freshmen) is working with countries including Russia, Canada, and Germany to create an organization that would provide immediate disaster relief to point on the globe. After we’re done eating, the majority of our time will be devoted to finalizing the details of these plans.
Friday, 9:48 a.m. —
The opening ceremony has just concluded and two of our teams are now waiting for the Economic and Social Council to proceed. The guest speaker for the opening ceremony was Consul-General Kevin McGurgan of the United Kingdom. As a former negotiator for sanctions against regimes in Libya, Iraq, and the Taliban and head of the NATO Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan, he gave a very interesting insider’s look at the aspects of the UN that most only hear about on the news, as well as a humorous jab at the recent Wikileaks incident.
Friday, 7:43 a.m. —
We’ve just arrived at the capitol building and are now sitting at the windows of the 22nd floor eating a breakfast kindly provided by Tallahassee Community College’s Model UN. Most of us are tired and hungry, but we’ve made it on-time and are all dressed for the occasion.
Thursday, 8:30 p.m. —
It’s been about an hour since FPC’s Model United Nations club arrived at the La Quinta in Tallahassee, and after settling in we’ve started back at the work needed to prepare for tomorrow’s conference. Some of us are putting the finishing touches on the positions we will take during the conference, and others are studying the relationships their country has with the other nations in their committees to ensure their interactions are realistic. Of course, we all have to be awake and dressed in business wear by 7:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, so there isn’t much time available before we must get some rest.