DECEMBER 10, 2016 - On a cold December Saturday, hundreds of Central New York students woke up extra early to get ready to gather to debate solutions to global and political problems of the past, present and future at this year’s iteration of the Upper Mohawk Valley Model United Nations (UMVMUN) conference. Model United Nations conferences, or MUN as students often call it, are organized simulations of the actual United Nations (UN). MUN has a strong reputation for developing critical thinking skills, public speaking ability, research and writing abilities, problem solving skills and global awareness.
for videos and pictures from the conference.
MUN has established a community of highly dedicated students and advisers across Central New York and has become one of Whitesboro High School’s most active clubs in recent years. MUN conferences are also held across the United States and even internationally. The Upper Mohawk Valley Model United Nations Conference has been one of the staple conferences in the Central New York region for more than 40 years. The conference has traditionally been held at a local college or university, such as Hamilton College, Utica College or Colgate University. For the past three years, the conference has been held at SUNY Polytechnic Institute.
UMVMUN is one of the most thoroughly run and diligently prepared conferences in New York State. This year’s conference included leadership from six local high schools, including a very strong presence of students from our own Whitesboro High School. These conference leaders began their preparation for this conference before school let out last summer and worked tirelessly to make the conference day run as smoothly as possible. Whitesboro had the most conference leaders of any school district with nine of the 24 conference leaders coming from our school. Two of our conference leaders helped make up a six-member leadership group called the Secretariat. The Secretariat included junior Stephen Ventura, one of the conference’s two Co-Secretary Generals who had the responsibility to oversee and delegate the administration and planning of the conference. Also included in the Secretariat was junior Austin Goldsmith, the Undersecretary General of Finance, who was responsible for financial planning, maintaining accurate records and making payments to all vendors.
Outside of the Secretariat, Whitesboro had seven other conference leaders who served in the position of chairs (students who set up and plan committees as well as moderate debate according to parliamentary procedure) and representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Aidan Uvanni and Marilynn Sergott, both seniors, chaired the World Health Organization Committee. Connor Yingling and Joe Ciccolella, both juniors, chaired the Disarmament and International Security Committee. Nick Briggs and Keegan Steele, both juniors, chaired the Soviet-Afghan War Historical Simulation Committee. Lastly, Anthony Ruggiero, a sophomore, represented two Non-Governmental Organizations (Amnesty International and the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict). Each of these students put a significant amount of work into their preparation for the conference and helped make the day a resounding success. Former Whitesboro teacher and Model UN adviser, Greg Smith, was responsible for overseeing all of the planning, development, record keeping and logistics of the conference day. A great deal of thanks goes out to each of Whitesboro’s conference leaders.
In addition to the leadership that Whitesboro helped provide to the conference, over twenty of our students participated in the conference as delegates. Delegates are students who represent countries or major political figures throughout history within the simulation of the United Nations at the conference. Delegates worked together to attempt to come up with peaceful resolutions to issues facing not only their own nation but the whole world as well. Some of the topics included in this year’s UMMVUN included the Effect of Rising Sea Levels on International Law, the Drug Wars of Mexico, the Kashmir Conflict between India and Pakistan, and the Soviet Afghan War of 1979. In addition to their participation in the simulation of the UN, attendees also learned a great deal from this year’s keynote speaker, Robert Cardillo. Mr. Cardillo received his law degree from the University of West Los Angeles in 1994. Since then, he has headed the Cardinal Center, a public policy agency that uses the talent and experience of its team members to establish business connections between its professional clients and government agencies. Mr. Cardillo has also served as a Disaster Recovery Coordinator for the United States Department for Housing and Urban Development. His contribution to the opening ceremony did a great deal to set the tone for an outstanding conference day.
According to those who attended, UMVMUN 2016 was a major success. As our own students gained invaluable leadership experience, developed public speaking ability and honed their diplomatic acumen and made lasting friendships, it cannot be overlooked that this year’s conference fell on the anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On this year’s International Human Rights Day, our students placed human rights at the forefront of their thoughts and passionately advocated for the protection and promotion of rights that all humans possess. Furthermore, through two conference day fundraisers, the students who attended donated a total of $1,155 to the Utica chapter of Habitat for Humanity. Once again, the students of Whitesboro lead the way for the region to accomplish something great. Please congratulate members of our Model United Nations club on a job well done.