By: Naomi Ohana (10th Grade)
If I had to describe YUNMUN in two words it would “sleep deprivation.”
YUNMUN, which stands for Yeshiva University National Model United Nations, is a conference that allows kids from around the world to come together to represent countries and discuss solutions to global issues. Hebrew Academy was assigned to serve as the delegation of Brazil, while the other Jewish day schools were given countries such as Spain and Russia.
Staying up until 2 am the night before my 7 am flight is just a small glimpse of the preparation I did in anticipation of YUNMUN. I spent countless hours researching information about Brazil’s opinion on genetically modified organisms, their hurricane relief programs, and their relationships with other foreign powers. The entirety of my three hour plane ride to the convention was spent reading legal documents to try to get a better understanding of Brazil’s justifications for their decisions.
Before starting our first session of the conference, every student was able to meet other people, become friends with others in their committee or reunite with friends that are usually miles away. Having never gone to camp or partaken in any Yeshiva League summer programs, it was more difficult for me to find people to talk to, but I was eventually able to make many friends. After dinner and speeches from the coordinators of the event, each committee broke up to start our first session. Hearing words and phrases that I had never heard before, and seeing kids discuss important issues with one another intimidated me tremendously. I spent the entirety of the first session listening to what everyone else had to say. “Motion to open speakers list?”, “The delegate of Nepal...”, and “Right of reply?” are just some of the confusing YUNMUN vocabulary I had to learn. Only speaking once, I left the room with a horrible feeling in my stomach, thinking that I had made the worst decision of my life.
Fortunately, talking to some of the kids from my committee and finding out that they were just as scared as I was, allowed me to regain the confidence I had at the beginning.
On Monday, we spent the entire day in sessions debating GMOs and whether or not they should be enforced on poorer and starving countries. Soon, alliances and coalitions were formed between delegates with similar positions. Arguments broke out between conflicting countries, questioning the reliability of their information. Many students took meticulous notes on other people’s opinions and ideas, while others passed the time by sending notes to other delegates. I played countless games of tic-tac-toe and hangman whenever the sessions got boring. Throughout the day, in the middle of the sessions, each committee was given a different crisis that they needed to deal with on the spot. My committee, the World Food Programme (WFP), was given the challenge of defeating Dr. Doofenshmirtz and getting back the world food supply without harming any civilians. Once a resolution was passed, we went back to arguing about different ways to settle the global food issues proposed to us. Many times throughout the day, different delegates tred to get the chair, a panel of moderators that made sure everything went according to protocol, to give us a break from the endless sessions. The majority of the time, it worked, resulting in dance parties, icebreakers, and a committee-wide game of hangman.
Although it sounds extremely boring, spending three days in a room debating serious issues with strangers allowed me to learn many important lessons about myself and the world. I made many friends, many of which I know by their country’s name. I am very grateful to have been able to experience YUNMUN, and hopefully next year I will be more equipped to represent my country.