LA student participants in the 2020 Columbia University Model United Nations Conference: sophomores Marina McManus and Will Sherrill, and seniors Erin Dworkin, Grace Canny, and Aidan McCullen.

In January Lincoln Academy’s Model United Nations (MUN) team attended the CMUNCE (Columbia Model United Nations Conference and Exposition) on the Columbia University Morningside Heights campus in New York City. CMUNCE is the premier MUN crisis conference for high school students in the United States.

CMUNCE is known for fast-paced, event-centered committees, which allow students to react quickly and solve real world problems in international affairs, including a surprise “Midnight Crisis” that happens at the Times Square hotel where students stay during the conference. Like all of the conference “events,” students do not know ahead of time which committees will be affected by the Midnight Crisis.

“Throughout the conference students continue their committee work in new situations that affect the outcome,” explained MUN faculty advisor Andrea Keushguerian. “It is the consequences of the students’ actions that make each crisis so unique and compelling.”

The conference offers a diverse blend of committees from different historical periods and regions of the world. The committees of CMUNCE are small–most under 25 delegates–in order to provide students with the opportunity to participate in debate and actively learn. According to LA senior delegate Erin Dworkin, “the competition is intense and challenges delegates of all levels to think quickly and creatively in response to new scenarios and events.”

In addition to Dworkin, LA students attending the conference included Aidan McCullen, Grace Canny, Will Sherrill and Marina McManus. Their committees included Organization of American States, French Wars of Religion 1572, Shanghai Communique 1982, Decision 1980: A Referendum on America, and The Thrill of the Chase: Forrest Fenn’s Treasure Hunt. Senior Aidan McCullen received an Honorable Mention as Duchess of Guise in the French Wars of Religion committee.

This year’s opening ceremony took place at the Riverside Church with keynote speaker Christian Wenawese, Ambassador from Liechtenstein.500 students from 60 schools around the world attended. “I am grateful that I was able to go on such a wonderful trip to New York to learn about the UN and experience diplomacy in action,” said senior Aidan McCullen. “I met people from all over the country and the world and saw many instances of deep passion for peace and negotiation. To simulate historical events at Columbia and to visit the mission of Liechtenstein at the UN reminded me that I am a part of a wider, global community. I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

The CMUNCE experience includes tours of the United Nations and private meetings with diplomats that allow delegates to experience the realities of international relations. The LA team visited the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein to the United Nations. “We met with Counsellor, Deputy Permanent Representative Georg Sparber, who kept us engaged in conversations about the Liechtenstein Initiative for a Financial Sector Commission on modern slavery and human trafficking, what is happening on the Security Council the open debate on the Middle East, and the reform and strengthening of the UN,” said LA senior Grace Canny.

“CMUNCE XIX was my fourth Model United Nations conference,” said LA sophomore Will Sherrill. “I personally enjoyed the intense, crisis-based setting. The constant updates forced delegates to react to and resolve a variety of situations, all while maintaining their character’s views. It was amazing to interact with delegates from as far away as India and Sweden, which truly shows how reputable the conference is. I am already looking forward to next year’s CMUNCE.”

According to Keushguerian conference costs are offset by a generous donor and grant funding. “Though CMUNCE is the most expensive conference our school attends, I felt like it was worthwhile because I learned a lot about crisis debate, which is a very different form of Model UN and is often done at college conferences,” said senior Grace Canny. “It was fun to explore New York City, and what really made this conference special was our proximity to the UN headquarters.”

Senior Erin Dworkin said, “the CMUNCE conference really upholds the UN’s mission of diplomacy, mixing students with similar interests from New Zealand, Pakistan, Texas, Maine, Sweden, and Manhattan. It’s a treat to meet these students and work with them to create a resolution in one’s committee. Not to mention, New York City is magical, especially in the snow!”