Model UN at UAA is back to caucusing on campus after COVID

Model United Nations Secretariat. Photo by Justin Cox.

Model United Nations at UAA was held on Feb. 23, 24, and 25. It was the first in-person conference at UAA since February of 2020. 

Almost every high school in ASD is involved along with some out-of-town high schools, said Model UN faculty advisor Kimberly Pace. In addition, Marian University from Indianapolis also participated. 

Model UN is a simulation of the United Nations and has been offered by the UA system since 1982. The theme this year was “The Future of Freedom: Ethnic Tensions, New Media, and the Democratization of Information.” 

Themes are chosen by teachers, said Pace. Committees are chosen by Pace, the Secretary General, and the President of the General Assembly, she said.

Selected committees for 2023 include The Arctic Council, headed by Jiale Turner and Denali Partridge, The International Telecommunication Union headed by Eugene Ye and Mckayla Montgomery, and The UN High Commissioner for Refugees headed by Hannah Utic.

The International Criminal Court was headed by Tuan Graziano, as Chief Justice, Emma Mullet and Savannah Melendez. Also, the UN Security Council was headed by Taylor Heckart, and The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples was headed by Katie Scoggin, permanent committees for UAA Model UN.

“Being back in person has been a very surreal experience,” Secretary General Matthew Green said in an interview.

Green first participated in Model UN as a senior at Chugiak High School, which was the first year it was offered at his school. He worked as a Secretariat in 2021 and became Secretary General the following year.

“It definitely means a lot to me that I was entrusted with helping keep the program alive and being given that responsibility to replicate what was my experience,” Green said.

Green also helped to develop a fall virtual conference in 2021. The fall conference is only one-day-long and doesn’t require students to write resolutions. 

“That was a way for us to prepare students for our spring conference,” he said.

Along with leading committees, Secretariats help teach high school students and other UAA students about Model UN.

Students at UAA learn about Model UN in a three-credit course offered in the spring semester. The Secretariat visits high schools to give them tips, Green said.

A post-conference survey collected 79 responses from students on their Model UN experience.

One student wrote that they had gained “a huge appreciation for the amount of knowledge and cooperation real UN delegates must demonstrate, and for the knowledge and debate skills of Anchorage high schoolers.”

“It was perhaps the most emotional Model UN conference I've had. Being able to return to Wendy for the first time in three years; caucusing, deliberating, laughing, sharing memories, I missed it so much,” someone wrote.

“We got gleaming feedback from faculty members and teachers who previously participated,” Green said, “They had told us that it’s as if we hadn’t stopped.”

UAA Model UN is still working to get attendance back up to pre-pandemic numbers. Things are looking up.

“I would say that it was a grand success, because we were able to replicate that experience that we had pre-pandemic,” he said.