Eight high schools gather for fourth annual ChipMUN conference
Classrooms in Anspach Hall were labeled with signs reading, "The Center for Disease Control," "The Arab Leauge of Nations" and "The Historical Security Council" among others. Each classroom housed at least a dozen well-dressed youths with futures in global diplomacy.
Eight high schools from around the state were invited to participate in the fourth annual ChipMUN conference, organized by CMU's United Nations Association of the USA chapter.
Model United Nations is a class in the political science department that trains students to attend national Model UN conferences. Students draft speeches and position papers, learn the parliamentary rules and procedures that are practiced at the UN and hold practice simulations.
ChipMUN serves as a fundraiser for the collegiate team to travel to places like Chicago and New York for national conventions every semester.
"Our philosophy as an organization is to have this event be fun, get the students here and have them talk about really important issues that are going on in the world," said Emilee Madison, a graduate assistant for undergraduate programs in the political science and public administration department.
Each high school student was assigned to represent a different sovereign nation. Like a real UN summit, they raised their nation's name high in the air when they wanted to speak. Madison said when the students arrived they were timid but by the end they were sitting in their groups, laughing with one another and casually exchanging opinions about wicked global problems.
Some of the political science students bounced around to various committees as "crisis actors," playing the role of prominent political figures to challenge participants.
"We come in and pretend to be these important people and whatever we say has to be the truth so everyone had to go along with it," Montgomery, Alabama Junior and crisis actor Chelsey Shafer said. "Basically, we influence the decisions that people made in their committees."
Shafer played the prime minister of France, a New York Times journalist and a specialist for the CDC.
When the final committee meetings adjourned, all students gathered in the Anspach auditorium for keynote speeches from Assistant Director of the Leadership Institute Jonathan Glenn and CMU President Bob Davies.
"We do need individuals that will lead. We need individuals that will take a positive, proactive and moral stance," Davies said. "I'm glad those individuals are in this room today."
Concluding the conference was an award ceremony that recognized schools and individuals who excelled in their individual committees, displayed the best teamwork and showed the most passion for global affairs.
Forest Hills High School senior Tony Dimeglio took home an award for the best strategic planning submission essay. Forest Hills High School collectively won an award for the best delegation.
"Model United Nations is a great thing to go into, you definitely learn a lot. You get public speaking skills and learn how to have better communication skills." Dimeglio said. "There was some great heart-to-heart interpersonal dialogue going on today."
Political Science 353: Model United Nations is available for any major and any class standing. For more information, contact political science Department Chair David Jesuit.