High School Students Expand Intellectual Horizons at Model UN

Fourteen Beth Tfiloh High School students joined hundreds of their peers from across the U.S. and around the world to expand their intellectual horizons as delegates at Yeshiva University National Model United Nations (YUNMUN).
YUNMUN is “a student-run simulation of the workings of the real United Nations that gives students an opportunity to experience and learn about the complex landscape of international diplomacy,” according to its website. As UN delegates, the students represent and advocate for a variety of positions, often ones with which they may personally support.

The delegates conducted research of their assigned country’s interests and policies, which span a wide range of issues, under the guidance of YUNMUN advisers and BT High School Jewish history teachers Mrs. Laurie Austen and Mr. Phil Jacobs. Mrs. Austen explained that the students have to arrive well-versed in their country’s approach to the topics they will be discussing.

“Each student had to research and write two papers before going on the conference,” Mrs. Austen said, adding that the student delegates have to learn all their committee’s rules and procedures, which are the same as at the UN. This intensive preparation expands the students’ knowledge of geopolitical issues while enhancing their research, preparation, communication and critical evaluation skills.

Mrs. Laurie Austen commented, "Mr. Jacobs and I were very proud of the team this year – on all levels they performed in an exemplary fashion. The team was a very young team consisting of a number of sophomores who learned a great deal about procedures and debating. We expect that they will do really well at future conferences. Kol hakavod (well done) to the team captains Yisroel A. '20 and Zach P. '20 who showed exemplary leadership and were incredible role models."
Several attendees shared their reflections on their YUNMUN experience:
Yisroel A. ’20:
My experience of Yeshiva University National Model UN was one of excitement, mixed with a twinge of sadness. I was really excited to attend the conference for the second time. Going into my first committee session, I knew what to expect – I had a better understanding of procedure, arguing, drafting resolutions, and forming alliances with other countries. But I was sad that this would be my last year.
The conference is extremely fun and rewarding. I got to meet students from around the country and the world. Kids from Brazil and South Africa attended, as well as students from New York and California. And yet we knew a lot of the same people -- it really goes to show how small our world is and how connected we are, even across great distances. 
I served on UNESCO, the United Nations Education, Science, and Cultural Organization committee. Every committee had similar procedure and rules, modeled on the real UN. My teammates did amazing. For many of them, it was their first time. I can't forget to mention that we won two honorable mentions this year. Gideon R. ‘22 and Selena S. ‘20 did an amazing Job on the CTC and International Criminal Court (ICC) respectively, and brought home some awards for BT!
Erela I. ‘22
It was an absolutely amazing experience! The atmosphere was surprisingly comfortable, even in such a nerve racking setting. I felt like I made friendships I normally wouldn’t have had I not come. I can’t wait to go back next year.

Selena S. ‘20
As a member of BT’s mock trial team, being on the ICC was really fun for me. In the span of one day I was able to collaborate with my teammates and prepare an entire case. We spent hours formulating a case theory and poking holes in the other side's possible arguments. I was able to deliver the closing statement which meant that I got to conclude all of our arguments/case theory and tie up any loose ends. I also had to listen to all witness testimony during the trial and incorporate it into my closing. Overall, I had a great time making new friends and mock trialing.
BT delegates represented two countries and debated an array of issues on their assigned committees:
United Arab Emirates
Security Council: Zach P. ‘20
  • Peacekeeping Reform
  • Venezuela: An Ongoing Series of Crisis
International Criminal Court (ICC): Selena S. ‘20
Middle East Summit: Steven H. ‘20
  • Repatriation of Women and Children
  • Freedom of Speech in the Middle East
UN Environmental Programme: Phillip S. ‘22
  • Climate Refugees
  • Green New Deal
UN Educational, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO): Yisroel A. ‘20
  • Private Schools
  • Impacts of Automation and Artificial Intelligence
UN Office on Drugs and Crime: Lilly P. ‘22
  • Cigarettes
  • Pharmaceutical Industry Regulation
UN International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF): Erela I. ‘22
  • Protecting Children from the Dangers of the Internet
  • Children Without Parental Care
Counter Terrorism Committee: Gideon R. ‘22
  • Terror Attacks on Soft Targets
  • Foreign Terrorist Fighters
World Food Program: Sophie P. ‘22
  • Hurricane Dorian Food Supply
  • Genetically Modified Organisms
Committee of Status of Women: Naomi B. ‘20
  • Ending Violence Against Women
  • Women and Girls in Sports
The Democratic Republic of Congo
UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC): Alma M. ‘21
  • US Border
  • Mental Health
Disarmament and International Security Committee: Isaac T. ‘21
  • Nuclear Weapons in the Middle East
  • Gun Control
African Summit: D.J. B. ‘20
  • Continued Advancement
Special Political and Decolonization Committee: Sam S. ‘20
  • Non-Self Governing Territories
  • Human Rights and Multinational Corporations
BETH TFILOH Dahan Community School
Roz & Marvin H. Weiner Family Campus | 3300 Old Court Road, Baltimore, MD 21208 | 410-486-1905 | mail@bethtfiloh.com