St. John’s Prep Model U.N. Conference
What happens when a school event seven months in the making gets cancelled?
On Saturday, December 9, more than 700 delegates from nearly 50 schools across New England were scheduled to attend the event, forming committees to address each of 16 separate global issues. Elaborate briefing papers crafted throughout last summer by members of the Prep’s Model U.N. Club (MUN) were to form the basis of committee discussion. But in an early harbinger of what’s turning out to be a brutal winter, wind-blown snow was predicted to descend on the region beginning on the evening of December 8.
Throughout that Friday morning, schools began declining their invitations to SJPMUN XII due to the iffy weather forecast. By early afternoon, the partnership within and among key constituencies of the Prep community had kicked into gear. Assistant Principal for Student Life Wendy Olson called an emergency meeting with MUN membership. What ensued was a calm and measured dialogue primarily driven by student input.
“We all brainstormed a variety of ways that we could make the conference work with an impending snow storm, but we kept coming back to wanting this to be a great experience for everyone,” recalls Mrs. Olson. “The students concluded relatively quickly that having some schools miss out due to the storm and either shortening the schedule or removing speakers and programs would not be our best option. Our MUN team is well traveled and have attended many conferences. They know what they want the student experience to be, and that trying to run a conference overshadowed by hazardous travel conditions, cancelled programs, etc. was not going to provide that experience.”
Choosing a date to reschedule was equally challenging. The original, December 9 date conflicted with no school sporting events an no competing conferences. But the team, the student life office and club moderator Mrs. Pamela Bronder-Giroux persevered and played the hand they were dealt, eventually settling on March 17, 2018.
“It’s not ideal, because it does conflict with a MUN conference at Boston College, as well as with spring break for some private schools, but it was the best date available,” says Jerrett. “We have already heard that some schools won’t be able to attend, but we intend on leaving a legacy for the club with this event and we’re hoping to recruit new schools to achieve the same numbers we had coming back in December.”
One of the hallmarks of a Xaverian education is a powerful emphasis on the development of relationships rooted in respect and kindness. The first step every student takes onto this campus animates a partnership—amongst the students themselves and between students and adults. The positive and productive outcome to what could have been a wholly disheartening experience vis-a-vis the Model U.N. club is an excellent illustration of this partnership in action.
“I was more than impressed with the way the students handled this disruption,” says Mrs. Olson. “Model U.N. isn’t just a club. It’s a forum in which students learn about leadership and about taking any situation they may find themselves in and influencing for the benefit of others.”
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