The South Plainfield High School Model United Nations club tackled challenge after challenge over the course of more than 12 hours of heated debate at the seventh annual South Plainfield Model United Nations Conference(SPMUNC VII), which took place at South Plainfield High School on November 17 and 18, 2018. The conference, which was organized by Executive Board members Lynda Farinella, Kyle Gallardo, Wyatt Gerber, and Vishika Patel under the guidance of club advisor Mr. Miten Shah, brought together some of South Plainfield’s best and brightest to discuss prominent issues affecting both the modern and historical worlds.

     While the club has conducted several successful conferences in the past, SPMUN VII was particularly unique in that the delegates were divided into two committees, a General Assembly committee for novice and intermediate delegates and a special Crisis committee for experienced delegates. Prior to the conference, the students split into their respective committees for two hour-long meetings per week and were tasked with learning the ins and outs of Model UN. They received a multitude of assignments on their assigned topics, leading to the formation of a well-researched and comprehensive position paper that would guide them through the conference. “The preparation work for the conference almost made Model UN feel like an extra class,” remarked sophomore Jelinda Montes. “However, it made me very prepared, and the conference experience was awesome!”

     In the General Assembly, the students addressed global drug trafficking as they represented various countries in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The committee, led by Vishika Patel and Wyatt Gerber, worked throughout the conference to propose solutions to the rise of drug cartels and the progression of the drug epidemic worldwide. They were challenged to work with others and think on their feet as government officials were attacked and drug trade amplified. Award winners included Keith Lehman as Best Delegate, Obinna Ibeku as Outstanding Delegate, Vivian Huyunh as Distinguished Delegate, Bobby Cesareo as Most Improved Delegate, and Brian Gallagher for the Position Paper Award.

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     In the Crisis committee, the delegates were thrown full-force into the United States National Security Council in 1983 at the beginning of the Iran-Contra Affair. Each delegate represented one of the members of Reagan’s cabinet at the outset of the 1983 hostage crisis and the rise of the Contras in Nicaragua, and they were required to address the situation at hand as their character saw fit. However, in addition to their work “in the room,” the delegates were also tasked with addressing a variety of crises brought by the crisis team, which consisted of volunteers Alexis Grayon, Rishi Bhalodi, Scott Cardona, and Liam Nagel, and chairs Lynda Farinella and Kyle Gallardo. The delegates were given time limits to save hostages, sent to meetings with foreign leaders, and fed information about a potential mole in the committee that was undermining their power. “Crisis for me was an exhilarating experience,” expressed Dominic Wojewodka, who earned the title of Best Delegate in the committee. “I knew it was going to be new and difficult, but I truly enjoyed the fast pace and constant surprises in debate.” Additional award winners were Braedon Dobrynio as Outstanding Delegate, Anthony Laudani as Most Improved Delegate, and Chioma Ibeku for the Position Paper Award.

    Overall, the conference proved to be an overwhelming success for the club, but it was particularly memorable for the seniors on the Executive Board, as it served as a summation of all the long hours they put in to put the conference together over the course of several months. “We were so impressed by the effort the younger delegates put in. They went far beyond what we expected, and it is the knowledge that they will be able to continue our legacy through their determination and drive that continues to inspire us to work hard to make their experiences in the club as rewarding as possible,” reflected the seniors.

            One special event to the 7th South Plainfield Model UN Conference was an alumni panel in which 4 well-reputed alumni and former SPHS students came back to the hallowed halls of South Plainfield High School. Kevin Belanger (Class of 2014), Anthony Gray (Class of 2016), Caleb Kuberiet (Class of 2017), and Roshni Patel (Class of 2018) offered words of advice and personal stories from their experiences in the real world to the conference’s delegates. This alumni panel will continue and the club hopes to develop a true alumni network, linking current high school students to former Model UN members for potential mentorship, internships, and other professional connections.

    With SPMUN VII having come to a close, the club is even more excited as they look toward the year’s major conference, which will take place at the University of Toronto in Canada. This will be the club’s first international trip, where twelve students will represent the SPHS delegation. The club extends a special thanks to the Executive Board, the crisis team, and advisor Mr. Miten Shah, whose guidance continues to lead the Model United Nations club on its path of achievement as one of the foremost Model UN programs in the nation. A special thank you also to Dr. Lishak and Mr. Spring who showed their support for the conference by visiting over the course of the weekend.