By Ian Shayne ’20
A group of 32 Parker Upper School students, led by a seven-member Secretariat headed by Secretary-General and junior Lindsay Carlin, organized FWPMUN III, the third citywide Model UN conference Parker has hosted, on Saturday, February 2.
Twenty-two Parker students either chaired or served as assistant chairs for nine committees, specialized gatherings of delegates who work together to solve complex issues within the framework of parliamentary procedure. Commitment to global cooperation pervaded each committee session, regardless of their respective purviews.
In his address to participants from all 12 schools at the beginning of the conference, Parker parent and former U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic Andrew Schapiro discussed how engaging in Model UN is a critical step in furthering one’s education in global cooperation, which he claims is particularly crucial given present-day political affairs. “It’s going to be up to you to decide where we go from this difficult moment, but there are two or three principles we can derive from the past and the moment where we are now,” Schapiro said in his speech. “It is not good for the world when the United States turns inward.”
Amy Dobner, advisor of Lincoln Park High School’s Model UN team, appreciated Schapiro’s recognition of the importance of America building bonds with countries across the globe. “I liked the idea of promoting global cooperation and starting early,” Dobner said, referencing Schapiro’s speech. “I thought he had an interesting perspective on America’s role in the world today, and I think that is something that students really need to be thinking about.”
Dobner considered the speech vital for her students to hear at this particular point in history. “I’m getting old, so the students are the future, and they’re the ones who are going to make the decisions,” Dobner said. “For them to learn about these issues is really important.”
Secretary-General Carlin connected Schapiro’s points about global cooperation to high school Model UN. “Obviously not all diplomats did Model UN when they were young, but I think that making the conscious choice to participate in Model UN does show dedication to modeling global cooperation,” Carlin said. “I think learning to debate, negotiate and compromise is helping prepare you for when compromise is not so easy.”
Carlin, who has enjoyed learning these skills since first participating in Parker’s Model UN program in 6th grade and has served as a captain of the Upper School Model UN program at Parker for two years, received the news of her appointment to Secretary-General on February 16, 2018. “Our in-school program is great, but what really helps me out especially as a captain, when I’m not participating in the symposia, is going to other conferences, the local conferences we attend as a Parker delegation and the international trips we go on,” Carlin said. “I’ve always really admired the people who are able to run those conferences. I jumped at the chance to get involved in Parker’s version of that, to create that experience for someone else.”
Director-General and senior Galia Newberger—who Carlin calls her “righthand man”—helped Carlin create that experience. Newberger’s attachment to FWPMUN, which stemmed in large part from the fact that last year—the year in which Parker students brought back the conference after five years without it—Secretary-General of FWPMUN II and senior Sammy Kagan offered her the position of head chair. “That was such a huge thing for me,” Newberger said. “It really changed the trajectory of high school for me in the sense that I was really brand-new when he offered that to me.” Newberger enrolled in Parker as a junior after having served as a captain of her former school’s Model UN team. “I was able to meet people who I love very much now and get involved in this amazing project.”
This project, involving Upper School Parker students from every grade, included a fresh batch of committees this year, including “1947 Axis Victory,” in which countries tried to create resolutions in a post-World War II world, assuming a defeat of the Allied Forces; “Knesset,” a committee modeled after the national legislature of Israel; “Senate of the Independent Californian Republic,” which operated in a world in which California seceded from the United States; and “NYC Council Post-9/11,” a committee modeled after the New York City Council directly after 9/11. A group of Parker students who served on a “crisis committee” interrupted sessions intermittently to report a crisis specific to each committee, forcing delegates to address issues extemporaneously. The crisis committee communicated with Carlin throughout the symposium using the collaboration program Slack.
Each committee’s head and assistant chairs, who evaluated delegates’ performances based in part on their ability to handle crises, led committee sessions from about 9:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. The day also included a 30-minute lunch break, a roughly 15-minute period for delegates to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their respective head and assistant chairs in front of Carlin (with the chairs themselves outside of the room), and—in the case of a few committees—roughly 15 minutes of “Fun MUN,” casual Model UN, in which, in the “Senate of the Independent Californian Republic,” delegates questioned whether water was wet. At the closing ceremony, officials handed out awards, including “Best Delegate.”
According to Ava Stepan ’20, the head chair of the UN Women committee, appreciation for global cooperation was an unofficial criterion for winning an award. “In my committee, I didn’t even look at sponsors once, and I didn’t care who had their name on resolutions but instead valued those who collaborated the best with others,” she said.
Newberger also believes that cooperation is necessary for both Model UN and real-world diplomacy. “For those who dismiss diplomacy as soft power, Model UN is a great reminder of how crucial it is and how difficult it is too. The appreciation that develops for diplomacy and diplomatic relations by participating in a club like that is definitely significant.”
Junior Adele Lowitz, who served on the Secretariat as Undersecretary General of Administration of FWPMUN III, appreciates diplomacy because of Model UN, and she viewed the conference as a great chance to expand her conception of the world. “It has given me the opportunity to see through the eyes of a different country and to focus outside of America, which is hard to do in an American school setting. It’s given me the ability to view other cultures and other cultures’ opinions through another lens.”