Taft students took home top honors in several categories at Yale's recent Model UN conference.
Students in History Teacher Megan Valenti's Honors Model United Nations class recently traveled to New Haven to participate in "YMUN XLV," the 45thsession of the Yale Model United Nations conference. Nearly 2,000 students from 80 schools and 40 countries gathered at the conference to think critically about contemporary global issues. Seniors Dylan Kim and Jamal Ahmad earned accolades for their work at YMUN XLV, with Dylan winning the conference's first-ever essay contest and an honorable mention for his committee work, and Jamal earning outstanding delegate honors for his work representing Mali on a committee exploring economic issues.
"I was very proud to represent Taft well enough to earn an award," says Jamal, "and I really appreciated the opportunity to represent Mali at YMUN as I myself am from a sub-Saharan African nation—Nigeria. Issues I worked on, such as cryptocurrency regulation and beating the poverty trap, have given me a new sense of what it means to truly collaborate when faced with peers who view the situation through their own lens."
Model UN simulates the work done by the United Nations. Student participants become UN delegates who, on various issue-based committees, represent their assigned countries' policies and negotiate resolutions favorable to both their country and the world. Students must bring their best negotiation, diplomacy, public speaking, collaboration, and leadership skills to the table along with a solid understanding of current world affairs. At YMUN XLV, Dylan represented Jordan in the Historical General Assembly.
"My committee addressed the Nicaraguan Revolution," Dylan notes, "putting ourselves in 1981, and working to take steps to ensure that the Nicaraguan people's human rights would be protected. I sponsored a resolution that addressed the situation."
The complex resolution contained, among many things, language condemning the Sandinistas' infringement of human rights, recognizing the "widespread disapproval of colonialism," examining and defining the role of both the Soviet bloc and the United States, setting deadlines for Sandinistas to halt human rights violations and restore "legitimate political stability," and creating an International Criminal Tribunal to examine possible war crimes. It passed the General Assembly by a vote of 61 for, 10 against, and 4 abstaining.
Dylan also submitted written work in advance as part of the event's first-ever essay contest. In his response to a prompt inviting consideration of international networks in an era of globalization, Dylan argued that the rise of nationalist policies across the globe is a result of the increased globalization of political systems, economic systems, and social perceptions. The essay earned top honors in the competition.
"There will never be a world in which globalization exists without nationalism," Dylan posits in his essay, "and perhaps this is for the better. Statistics often show globalization benefitting developed countries disproportionately more than less-developed countries through exploitative economic and political relationships...Nationalism, although often violent and containing harsh rhetoric, may serve as a necessary evil that mitigates the uncontrolled spread of globalism...as long as globalization exists, so will nationalism."
Taft's year-long Honors Model United Nations course explores the basic workings of the United Nations and its diplomatic role in the global community. Students research, discuss, debate and unpack a range of issues—from human rights and global warming to the complexities of war, peace, and economic disparity. They bring the knowledge and skills developed in the Taft classroom to a number of student-led Model UN conferences each year, including the recent four-day event at Yale; the Harvard Model United Nations Conference, held in February; and the Cornell Model UN Conference, held in April.