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Student Diplomats Debate International Politics

Hundreds Convene for Student-Run Yeshiva University National Model UN Conference

Over 450 delegates convened from February 9-11 for the Yeshiva University National Model United Nations (YUNMUN) conference, held at the Stamford Plaza Hotel and Conference Center in Stamford, CT. YUNMUN XXIV brought together student ambassadors from 46 yeshivas and community day schools across three continents, hailing from 15 states and 39 cities around the world. In addition, 60 YU undergraduates and 65 faculty advisers joined the conference, which is a student-run simulation of the workings of the real United Nations that allows participants to learn about the complex landscape of international diplomacy.

“YUNMUN is unique as an opportunity for high school students to meet with their peers from across North America, Brazil and South Africa,” said Michael Kranzler, YU’s director of undergraduate admissions. “Throughout the three days, they learn from each other in the context of an academic, intellectual and social event that is run and entirely coordinated by undergraduate students. These student role models at this professionally run conference are the most effective ‘recruiters’ for YU.”

Prior to the event, students were assigned a country and appointed to one of 15 committees dealing with issues of international concern, including the Counter-Terrorism Committee, the International Criminal Court, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund. To argue their points effectively, students conducted research on that country’s interests and policies, adding to their knowledge of world affairs and to their facility with communication and critical evaluation.

This year’s conference included presentations from Ambassador Ido Aharoni, consul general of Israel; Rabbi Kenneth Brander, vice president for university and community life and David Mitzner Dean of the Center for the Jewish Future; YU President Richard M. Joel; and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Kressel and Ephrat Family University Professor of Jewish Thought.

“The environment that YUNMUN creates is the perfect balance of fun and professionalism, allowing everyone attending to make friends and memories that last a lifetime,” said Isaac Wolfe, a junior at the Akiva Hebrew Day School in Southfield, MI, who attended for the second time. He represented Turkey in the United Nations Human Rights Council and took home the award for best delegate.

“The highlight of the event is the people who are attracted to YUNMUN,” Wolfe said. “These people are smart, but they know how to have a good time. Everyone in my committee had an awesome time with each other debating and arguing, but at the end of the day we always found ourselves laughing together. I am so thankful I was able to attend this year and I cannot wait to come again next year.”

Other participants also enjoyed the opportunity to network with fellow students from across the globe and the chance to hone their oratory skills.

“I love the dialogue, the intellectual stimulation and most of all, all the types of kids that come,” said Moshe Klein, a senior at the Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy in Rockville, MD, who represented the United Kingdom as a member of the Security Council. “I gained a lot of life skills such as public speaking, sociability and confidence.”

It was Klein’s third year as a YUNMUN participant and his first as captain of his school’s delegation. For him, the most memorable part of the conference was Rabbi Sacks’ speech. “He spoke about the evolution of anti-Semitism and how we as students can combat it,” said Klein. “He was absolutely incredible and he definitely made it on to my list of ‘pros’ for going to YU.”

YUNMUN XXIV also featured an updated range of Research and Media Center services open to help facilitate a more productive and interactive conference. Closing ceremonies included the presentation of awards to the best delegates and honorable mentions for each UN committee.

Watch Shield News' YUNMUN coverage below: