For the third consecutive year, the Wasatch Academy Model United Nations (MUN) team attended the Brigham Young University (BYU) MUN Competition. BYUMUN is a fast-paced one-day conference created and run by BYU students in the Kennedy School of International Relations. It starts at 8:30 am with an opening ceremony with high-profile guest speakers including an ambassador from the US Department of State.
Most of the work is done through unmoderated caucuses, different than other MUNs that have a mix of moderated and unmoderated caucuses. “It requires a lot of focus, drive, and energy to communicate with their committee delegates and produce a resolution that aims to solve the topic problem while representing their assigned country’s interests,” states Josh McCalister, MUN Team Coach.
This year was a major milestone for the competition as BYU marked 30 years of hosting the event. In previous years, the opening ceremony was held in the Wilkinson Center, but this year the Franklin S. Harris Fine Arts Center set the stage. The change in venue created a professional and exciting day for MUN. The BYUMUN competition also has grown significantly over the last 30 years from 50 delegates to almost 700. The Wasatch Academy team totaled 20 students alone. “It was much more competitive this year, which was great for our delegates because for 15 of the 20 delegates from Wasatch Academy, this was their first MUN,” said McCalister.
Preparation prior to the conference is not an easy task and involves a strong level of commitment by the student and their coach. Students are assigned to topics and a committee that interests them. Then they are assigned by the MUN host to a country they must represent. Students find specific research on the country’s beliefs and the action they would take on the committee topic. Coach McCalister assists them with learning parliamentary procedures through mock MUN practice and helps them prepare their speeches and resolution points.
The greatest challenge is preparing students to represent a foreign country’s best interests. “It requires knowing how they would act and which type of international relations theories they apply in specific topics. It often requires students to go against their beliefs and how they think the problem should be solved,” said McCalister.
However, the Wasatch Academy team did not let challenges keep them from performing very well at the competition. Tenzin Dhesel, Farhat Jebran, Rafael Guevara, and Assetou Diop were awarded the Peer Award. Rokiatou Diop and Tenzin Choezin were awarded for their position paper, and the team was acknowledged with the Honorable Delegation award for representing Italy and Belgium. The team also received the Distinguished Delegation award for representing Belgium and Afghanistan.
While students are enjoying their well-deserved victories, the team isn’t wasting any time preparing for the next event. The team will represent Wasatch Academy at UC Berkeley March 6-8 where they will represent Albania and Romania in the General Assembly of the UN and Comoros in the African Union. They will also have delegates who will be on the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Bretton Woods reenactment, and the Berkeley Venture Capital Committee.
For McCalister, the time spent on supporting students’ development is worth every moment. “Personally, I enjoy being part of student growth. As they start the country research and position paper preparation, they are at a very different place cognitively, by the time they finish the conference, their perspective and knowledge have grown and they can barely contain their excitement as they share their experience and learning.”