Representing El Salvador at the Harvard Model United Nations

Rain Ji at HMUN

Fifteen students from The Gunnery Model United Nations (MUN) traveled to Boston from January 24 to 27 to participate in the 66th session of the Harvard Model United Nations (HMUN). The four-day international relations simulation drew some 3,300 high school delegates and their faculty advisors, who gathered to “address some of the world's most pressing challenges.”

“At HMUN, delegates gain insight into the workings of the United Nations and the dynamics of international relations by assuming the roles of world leaders and international decision makers,” the organization states. “Participants will develop several skills throughout this process, including but not limited to: public speaking, negotiation, teamwork, leadership, and policy crafting. True to the spirit of the United Nations, HMUN strives to foster a constructive forum for open dialogue on a range of complex issues, including international peace and security and economic and social progress. We ask delegates to think critically about the world around them, and to think in new and ambitious ways. What is the purpose of multilateral organizations like the United Nations? What can they achieve? How do we balance national interests with the interests of the international community? How do we ensure that those with power use it responsibly? What can young people do to affect change in their own communities and the world at large?”

Andrew Byrne-King '19 noted students from The Gunnery's MUN club have participated in the Boston event three of the past four years. Last year was the exception, when students joined the North American Invitational Model UN, which is one of the oldest and largest UN simulations, for the first time. That event was hosted by Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. “We wanted to see what other conferences had to offer,” Byrne-King said. Ultimately, the club decided to return to Boston this year, and did so with great success.

Rain Ji ' 19 served as the Iranian Ambassador to Syria and was part of the Syrian Cabinet, a Specialized Agency that focused on repairing and rebuilding Syria in 2020 after the civil war. HMUN summarized the cabinet's task this way: “The new Cabinet has just recently assumed power. They are faced with a multitude of challenges, as the new government attempts to both repair the damage left by the civil war, and rebuild a new state and a new government system. The civil war has left multiple Syrian cities and urban centers severely damaged. Continued foreign military presence threatens the independence of the new government and the sovereignty of the new state. Divisions between the different groups and factions threaten the stability of the new regime. Meanwhile, millions of Syrian nationals continue to live abroad as refugees, while the Syrian economy has been devastated.”

Students must apply to be considered for a role in HMUN's Specialized Agencies,  which are described as “the most creative and imaginative committees of HMUN.” These committees are typically smaller and more intense. “They require all delegates to respond quickly and decisively to crises, and allow each member of the committee to play a critical role in advancing his or her own interests, fashioning meaningful debate, and crafting effective responses to the crises faced by the committee,” HMUN said.

Wyatt Cicarelli '19 represented El Salvador as part of the Economic and Financial Committee (ECOFIN), one of the 10 largest committees that make up the General Assembly at HMUN. The committee focused on corporate accountability in developing nations. Members were “tasked with creating new frameworks, legislation, and strategies that help to combat the paradox that comes with globalization and growing global trade: the ostensible benefits of free trade are in agreement with economic-theory, but they come at the cost of the exploitation of labor in developing nations,” HMUN said.

Jolie Kaplan ' 20 and Alex Hinkel '21 served as members of the General Assembly's Legal Committee, which focused on the legal status of stateless individuals. HMUN said: “to discuss this issue at a higher level, we will be substantiating our understanding with case studies from the Rohingya Crisis, the asylum seekers in Europe, and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy in the United States. It is important for delegates to not only focus on the moral dilemmas faced in this topic, but to also extract the issues into higher level questions to address more philosophical ideas of pragmatism and qualifications of citizenship.”

Sophia Novoa '20 and Margaret Wu '22 were part of the delegation representing El Salvador in the Historical General Assembly: The Sixth Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), 1979. They worked together to create their own bloc and passed their own resolution. It was an exciting and impressive accomplishment for two students who were participating in the HMUN for the first time and they plan to continue next year, Byrne-King noted.

In its summary of the Historical General Assembly's topic, HMUN said: “Countries like Nicaragua, Cambodia, Angola, and Afghanistan do not often lend themselves well to association with the Cold War – yet they, in retrospect, have become almost paradoxically the decisive, and representative battlegrounds for central Cold War conflicts. While uniquely diverse in context, each case uniformly reflected a charged ‘Third World' situation, where the US and USSR both had vested interests in geopolitical control, but conversely little interest for the livelihoods of the local populations. The Non-Aligned Movement was born in direct opposition to such behavior, and grounded itself firmly in the ideas of self-determination and mutual respect.

"The Gunnery delegates for 2019 included: Ike Bennet  '21, Andrew Byrne-King '19, Wyatt Cicarelli '19, Thomas Copley '22, Anthony Giang '21, Alex Hinkel '21, Rain Ji '19, Jolie Kaplan '20, Sophia Novoa '20, Stephen Oswald '19, Alice Pan '21, Aris Wang '20, Margaret Wu '22, Erica Zhang '20 and Karen Zhu '21. They were accompanied to the HMUN by advisors Edward Surjan and Karoline Theobald.

Photos provided by Edward Surjan, Library Director and Model UN Advisor

Additional Images

Rain Ji at HMUN

Top, Rain Ji ’19, as the Iranian Ambassador, is fourth from the left. HMUN Press Corps 2019 tweeted about this photo: “In the specialized agency of Syria Cabinet, the Iranian Ambassador was proposing her opinions about the significance of clean water to the Syria.” Photo by Harvard Model United Nations 2019; Above, Rain Ji, seated, third from left, listens to the Russian Ambassador to the Minister of Economy and Finances during a Syrian Cabinet meeting. Photo by Harvard Model United Nations 2019.

Gunnery students at HMUN

HMUN Press Corps 2019 tweeted: “This diverse bloc from the Historic General Assembly, 1979 (NAM) is comprised of the delegations of Peru, El Salvador, Mali, Panama, Indonesia and Botswana.” The bloc, which included Sophia Novoa ’20 (standing) and Margaret Wu ’22 (in black blazer in front of her) focused on human rights to address the crisis. Photo by Harvard Model United Nations 2019.

Gunnery students at HMUN

Andrew Byrne-King ’19 and Jolie Kaplan ’20

Gunnery students at HMUN

Margaret Wu ’22 and Sophie Novoa ’20

Gunnery students at HMUN

Thomas Copley ’22, at right

Gunnery students at HMUN

Jolie Kaplan ’20 and Alex Hinkel ’21

Wyatt Cicarelli ’19 at HMUN

Wyatt Cicarelli ’19

Anthony Giang ’21 and Erica Zhang ’20 at HMUN

Anthony Giang ’21 and Erica Zhang ’20

students and faculty at HMUN

Library director and MUN Advisor Edward Surjan, left, with members of The Gunnery’s 2019 delegation: Andrew Byrne-King ’19, Jolie Kaplan ’20, Sophia Novoa ’20, Rain Ji ’19, Ike Bennet  ’21, Alice Pan ’21, Margaret Wu ’22, Aris Wang ’20, Thomas Copley ’22, Anthony Giang ’21, Alex Hinkel ’21, Wyatt Cicarelli ’19, Stephen Oswald ’19,  Karen Zhu ’21 and Erica Zhang ’20.