Four Taft scholars earned honors last weekend at Yale University’s 49th Model United Nations Conference.
Four Taft scholars earned honors last weekend at Yale University’s 49th Model United Nations Conference (YMUN XLIX). Fewer than five percent of the event’s more than 1,000 participants were recognized for their work. Theresa Alves De Oliveira ’24 and Isabella Nascimento Silva Pinto ’25 earned Outstanding Delegate accolades, while Carolina Echavarria ’25 and Alex Werner ’26 were named Honorable Delegates for their committee work.
“Taft’s exemplary performance at YMUN XLIX is a product of our community’s commitment to global awareness and the willingness of the student delegates to test their intellectual skills in a fast-paced and competitive environment,” says Dean of Faculty Edie Traina, who serves as the Taft Model UN Club advisor. “In general, Model UN is a wonderful match for Taft’s mission of inclusion, service, and scholarship.”
Model UN is a simulation of the United Nations General Assembly and its multilateral bodies. 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’ negotiation, diplomacy, public speaking, collaboration, and leadership skills are tested throughout the process, along with their knowledge and understanding of global issues and their impact. Hundreds of thousands of students worldwide participate every year in MUN at all educational levels—from primary school to college. Both Isabella and Carolina started their MUN careers before arriving at Taft.
“I have been involved with Model UN since I was about eleven years old,” notes Isabella. “At such a young age, I just volunteered to help with the logistics of the annual Model United Nations conference that my school in Brazil hosted. I eventually assumed leadership positions within my school's International Relations club, and became responsible for hosting national and local conferences for 40 to 200 delegates. It feels great to have the opportunity to continue exploring this personal interest at Taft.”
Carolina tells a similar story.
“MUN has always been one of the biggest parts of my life. I've been very involved with multiple conferences and have passed through every position there is,” Carolina says. “My story with MUN goes way back to my days as a floor secretary in 6th grade, when I had to bring water, coffee, and pass notes around the committee before eventually becoming a delegate.”
Yale Model UN is an annual event, spanning four-days and welcoming student delegates from across the globe. This year’s opening ceremony featured a keynote address by Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya, who is currently the Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations. He previously served as the Deputy Foreign Minister, Deputy Director-General of the Second Territorial Department, and Senior Adviser to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
“Hearing the Permanent UN Representative for Ukraine speak at the Opening Ceremony was definitely a highlight,” notes Theresa, who co-founded Taft’s Model UN Club and was instrumental in getting Tafties to Yale for this year’s event. Theresa is also an accomplished delegate, having earned Best Delegate and Outstanding Delegate honors at Yale Model UN in 2020 and 2021, respectively, in addition to this year’s Outstanding Delegate honor.
YMUN XLIX participants worked on committees under six broad umbrellas: General Assemblies, which included work on a Human Rights Council and the World Health Organization, to name just a few; Economic and Social Councils, which included, among others, a Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, and Commission on Sustainable Development; Regional Bodies, incorporating groups like the Arab League, African Union, Indigenous Peoples Council; Specialized Agencies with The International Court of Justice, The Warren Commission, and more; and Crisis Committees, exploring topics like he Black Plague, Northern Ireland, and Harry Potter and the Ministry of Magic (!).
“I was part of the Human Rights Council, one of the largest committees at YMUN,” explains Isabella. “Representing the Kingdom of Belgium, I had generally progressive stances on both topics that would be debated on the HR Council: the professional and academic empowerment of women, and the Kurdistan and the Kurdish Conflict. In preparation for the conference, I wrote a position paper declaring my nation's views on the two issues and proposing solutions. I had the support of Mr. Werrell, my English teacher and advisor, as I drafted my final position paper for submission. Then, during the conference, I worked to ensure Belgium’s stance would be honored by our resolution by defending my country’s interests, and the interests of the European Union as a whole. I created my own block, alongside other European nations, to advocate for the inclusion of women in the workplace by furthering rights like maternity leave and establishing a political quota for female candidates.”
And while Isabella’s preparation was demanding and critical to her performance at YMUN XLIX, Theresa’s past achievements precluded any advantage preparation might bring.
“I was on an Ad Hoc committee, a special crisis committee for advanced delegates in which the topic, time period, and positions are announced only when delegates walk into the committee session,” Theresa explained. “I represented Joseph Stalin in the Potsdam Conference and later Malinowski, as Stalin was imprisoned by my committee in a crisis note.”
Carolina’s Honorable Delegate award reflected her work on the Harry Potter and the Ministry of Magic Crisis Committee, where she assumed the role of the series’ young villain, Draco Malfoy.
“While the Harry Potter books are fantasy, discussing the return of Voldemort and general chaos in the wizarding world allowed us to more broadly consider worldwide issues like the racism and extreme discrimination segregated minorities experience.”
Though Alex is a relative newcomer to Model UN, his experience—and Honorable Delegate recognition—were no less rewarding. As part of the Disarmament and International Security Committee, Alex explored peacekeeper reform and bioterrorism.
“I began preparing over winter break by drafting my position paper,” says Alex. “I represented Costa Rica, and was able to sponsor a number of draft resolutions. The work we did was quite involved—some days starting at 9:30 am, and ending at 11pm.”
YMUN XLIX participants were also invited to “Yale Day” activities, which included tours of campus, the Yale University Art Gallery, and the Center for British Art, and opportunities to hear from Yale faculty members and student organizations during “expert lectures.” Among those student organziations: Yale’s Model UN group, of which Dylan Kim’19 and Francesca Nyakora '19 are members. Dylan and Francesca also served as YMUN XLIX committee chairs.
"Yale Model United Nations was a great experience not only for the opportunity to meet engaged delegates from across the world—especially many from my home country of Brazil—but also for the chance to experience college life at one of the best universities in the world,” says Isabella. And Carolina agrees: “From the beautiful campus landscapes to the diverse set of people I was fortunate enough to meet, Yale was a once in a lifetime experience. I was able to develop my experience in debate and public speaking, and to meet more people from all over the world, allowing me to more deeply engage with the concept of ‘diversity in thought.’”
Congratulations to Taft’s Full YMUN XLIX delegation, who represent a portion of Taft’s Model UN Club participants:
Theresa Alves De Oliveira