At a time when international affairs are more important than ever, students from Bayonne High School’s Model United Nations (BHSMUN) Club learned how to build consensus and reach constructive compromises by participating in the recent National High School Model United Nations (NHSMUN) Conference in New York City from March 10-13, 2017. Lead by Club Advisors Mr. Evan Wexler and Mr. David Onacilla, and supported by Social Studies teachers Dr. John Bransfield, Mrs. Mary Ellen Fitzhenry, and Mrs. Keri Toomey, thirty-three students spent four days tackling real world problems as they represented the nations of Nicaragua and Uzbekistan.
The International Model United Nations Association founded in 1979 hosts premier education-based conferences in numerous cities throughout the word. NHSMUN is a project of the International Model United Nations Association affiliated with the United Nations Department of Public Information. It is an authentic simulation of activities and problems tackled by the United Nations. Guided by the desire to prepare students to become better global citizens by creating “educational experiences that emphasize collaboration and cooperative resolution of conflict,” NHSMUN helped our students to develop a greater understanding of current international issues, the workings of the United Nations, and the role of diplomacy in world affairs. Moreover, students honed their critical thinking skills as they encountered different viewpoints and tried to persuade others to support their resolutions during negotiations. As Bayonne High School senior Haseeb Mughal wrote, “For four days, we were no longer just students. We were diplomats…”
As critical as it is for students to develop knowledge and an understanding of current global events and as necessary as it is for students to sharpen their critical faculties, the NHSMUN Conference provided an equally important opportunity: the chance to interact with high school students from all over the United States and the world. With over 5,000 students in attendance at the March 2017 conference and with negotiating sessions that went deep into the night, our students had plenty of opportunities to meet and to befriend students from the Americas, Africa, Europe, Asia, Canada, and Oceania. The meaningful exchanges and friendships such as the ones our students developed during the conference are the building blocks of mutual respect, understanding, and peace.
I would like to thank the teachers who afforded our students this wonderful opportunity. As Bayonne High School junior Shakiba Namjou explained, the conference provided her and other club members with a life-changing experience. I would also like to thank Mr. Jahnbaz Almas, Board Member of Bayonne Education Foundation as well as Ms. Jennifer Padilla, Secretary General of the National High School Model United Nations and Mr. Max Ross, Board Member of the International Model United Nations Association (IMUNA). Without Mr. Almas there simply would not have been a Club and without Jennifer and Max’s guidance and the generous financial support of the National High School Model United Nations, our students would have never made it to New York City. Lastly, Dr. McGeehan, Assistant Superintendent Degnan, Assistant Superintendent Kopacz, Assistant Superintendent Smith and the members of the Bayonne Board of Education deserve our thanks. Their collective support made our students’ experience possible.