Three members of Miss Porter’s School’s Model United Nations, seniors Lauren B., Tina F., and Cydney H., earned placement on special committees for the 2018 Harvard Model United Nations conference, held in Boston in January. “Special committees require separate applications and, since HMUN boasts upwards of 4,000 delegates annually, these committees are exceptionally selective,” notes Gene Cassidy, faculty advisor to Porter’s Model U.N. Read on for a conversation about Cydney’s and Lauren’s experiences!
Cydney and Lauren: We both joined Model U.N. our sophomore year, but this year’s HMUN conference was a lot different! Committees normally range from about 200 people to 400 people, and our committees this year were 11 and 13 people. The small size helps you work with other people and connect with your committee! It’s definitely the closest we’ve gotten to anyone in our committees – we still talk to them!
Cydney: I applied to be in Model U.N. during the spring of my freshman year, so I started fall of my sophomore year. I joined because I wanted to learn more about the world and foreign policy. It has definitely helped develop my interest in international relations and now I probably want to study that in college! Model U.N. focuses on learning about how diplomacy works and how other countries talk to each other, which is really important – learning to have a good, educated conversations on global issues.
Lauren: I joined Model U.N. because Porter’s is very politically active and I really like learning about the world. I absolutely fell in love with it and I think it’s a really cool opportunity just to be able to meet all these different people who are so smart and care so much about the world – and to be able to forget about daily life for a second and focus on larger world issues and helping other people, things that are bigger than yourself! The special committees are so fun because the action is tangible instead of just theoretical. For example, we had a “midnight crisis,” where they came and banged on our doors at midnight, and they pulled us out and we had to wage the Vietnam War from one until four in the morning! Everything our team did impacted Cydney’s team and vice versa! I was super tired the next day…
Cydney: Same! But I think we handled it pretty well! We did a lot in our cabinet that reimagined history. We put an African American woman on the moon in the 1960s and then she ran for president! It was really interesting to see the events play out. The first crisis we encountered was whether we should invite Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, both, or neither to the Civil Rights Act signing. There ended up being people who were corrupt in our cabinet, there were people who ran for president in our cabinet, there were people who sold secrets to the U.S.S.R., to Vietnam and to China…
Lauren: Someone in your cabinet was framing someone in our cabinet for selling secrets! But we never actually gave any secrets to Vietnam. Most of what we did initially was less corrupt, and more just actually trying to build Vietnam, so I got to learn a lot about communism and how to build a government. It was really hard but I was on a team of really smart people! They were from all over. We had one from India, one from Alaska, one used to live in Hong Kong, there was one from Brazil – it was a really diverse cabinet! We had a lot of different people with different perspectives.
Cydney: Everyone should do Model U.N.!
Lauren: Yes! Knowing how to talk to people is such an important skill. A lot of people get caught up in the own opinions and being able to explore different points of view and come into conversations with an educated perspective is really important.
Cydney: I hope a lot of people apply more to the special committees…I think that it brings a lot of people out of their shells and I hope that a lot of the other girls in Model U.N. can venture out of their comfort zones like we did.
Lauren served as Hoang Van Hoan, Ambassador to Beijing from the Politburo of the Communist Party of Vietnam, 1955; Tina as Inguna Sudraba, member of the Defense, Internal Affairs, and Corruption Committee of the Latvian Parliament, 2020; and Cydney as First Lady Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson on President Johnson’s Cabinet, 1963. To learn more about the special committees at the Harvard Model U.N. conference, click here.