Lessons in Diplomacy
Students compete in Model UN.
When you first enter the halls of a high school Model United Nations conference, you might see participants chatting about homework, a recent sporting event, or a viral video. But when the sessions get underway, the dialogue quickly shifts from friendly social banter to parliamentary procedure. The participants take on a persona — often representing a country, non-governmental organization (NGO), or business — and simulate a session of the UN focused on finding solutions to a proposed problem.
More than a dozen students participate in Pomfret’s Model UN program. In the weeks leading up to a conference, they spend time researching their roles and drafting position papers. Once at the conference, they debate and negotiate their assigned topic before drafting a resolution that they must collaborate with others to get adopted. They use a variety of skills, including public speaking, leadership, communication, critical thinking, and creativity while learning about international relations and topics that affect all nations. “Model UN teaches you about teamwork and how to see something from a macro perspective,” says Charles Chen ’23. “I've also learned to take good notes and be a good listener.”
Pomfret's delegates participated in the University of Connecticut Model United Nations conference, in November. It was a more conventional Model UN experience and an introduction for some of the younger delegates to learn the traditional and logistical components of the diplomacy simulation. “I learned a lot about procedure,” said Model UN newcomer Sev Harrington ’25. “If you're a bit lost, you can always ask questions. It’s very accessible. Everyone is very nice and willing to help.” Some students participated in the General Assembly, while others focused on crisis and specialized committees and debated the Cambridge Analytica Scandal and the Suez Crisis. Ian Wang ’23 represented Pakistan on the UN Security Council, drove the debate, and was named Best Delegate.
In mid-January, at the Columbia Model United Nations Conference and Exposition, Pomfret delegates participated in a unique experience that primarily consisted of crisis committees on a range of topics from diverse time periods and regions and even universes. High school students from around the world discussed fictional scenarios involving the Tales of Ireland, Vought International, The Handmaid’s Tale, and the Snowden files. Instead of countries, the delegates represented characters in their assigned plot. The conference also provided students with the opportunity to hear from the President of the UN General Assembly, Csaba Kőrösi, as well as panels of UN liaisons, leading scholars, and Nobel Peace Prize winners discuss cybersecurity and nuclear disarmament. Pomfret students also had the chance to meet with The Permanent Mission of Poland to the UN at the UN Headquarters.
Pomfret’s Model UN looks forward to participating in another conference this spring to further hone its diplomacy skills.