Suzy L’Hommedieu, Ashi Gunawardena, and Jake Huddleston at this year’s Model UN. (Courtesy/Amy Berkley)
Over the long Presidents’ Day weekend, two groups of Columbus Academy students traveled to Washington, D.C. for Model United Nations and Junior States of America events.
Over 40 Upper School students joined nearly 3,000 national and international high school delegates at The North American Invitational Model United Nations Conference (NAIMUN) hosted by Georgetown University. For 4 days, attendees researched and represented various nations in assemblies and committees, seeking to resolve global issues and conflicts via simulated negotiation and diplomacy.
Nia Law, a junior and Deputy Secretary General for Model UN, said, “You get to meet a lot of incredibly interesting people, while also exploring DC with your friends. You also get to learn more about the world while doing your part to try to fix it. My favorite part is probably that it is a venue where social change and work are one with learning and making some of the best memories.”
Twelve students participated in JSA’s trip. This three-day, two-night convention was similar to a mock Congress, housed at Hilton Doubletree. While those at the Model UN convention explored foreign policy, those at JSA dove deeper into domestic issues. Students reviewed legislative bill proposals written by students around the world and proceeded to debate and vote on them, and they also had the opportunity to sit in on party caucuses (events for the Democratic, Republican, and Libertarian political parties).
At JSA, freshmen Arjun Gokhale and Ethan Kim had their bill that allow college athletes to accept endorsements passed. Additionally, Raaghuv Vazirani’22 and Anay Reddy’20 passed their bill to implement a federal open carry license policy and gun safety courses for first time buyers. Co-Chapter President Jay Gokhale’20 says, “That’s impressive because only 18 out of the original 300+ submissions got passed.”
Also at the convention were awards for best speakers. Kim won an award for Senate A, Vazirani won for Senate E, and Gokhale won two awards (one for House E on the first day and thenJoint Chamber E on the second day).
The weekend was not all business for these Academy students. Many at MUN chose to use the weekend at Georgetown to explore various parts of our nation’s capital in between their intense, lengthy sessions. Everything from national monuments to Ben’s Famous Chili Bowls were particular hits.
JSA participants saw some of the district’s best highlights, including the National Mall, the White House, the Washington monument, the African-American History Museum, and the Smithsonian National Zoo.
Students also attended dances and karaoke in the evenings, and for Model UN, Georgetown put on a performance of all of their clubs.
Reflecting on his last national conference, CA Model UN Secretary General Kathan Reddy’20 said, “NAIMUN was an awesome bonding experience for the Academy kids on the trip. We got pretty into it, and everyone from the new freshmen to the returning seniors benefitted from the speaking and from collaborative experiences. I’m excited to hear about how everyone does next year!”
Regarding his experience at JSA, Gokhale says, “JSA has provided me with valuable lessons that I will use for the rest of my life. I’ve learned how to be an effective political contributor, a succinct public speaker, and a responsible leader. More profoundly, I’ve had the opportunity to meet the future political icons of our great nation.”
“While I’m heartbroken that my time in JSA has come to an end,” Gokhale adds, “I’m content knowing that the non-senior members are phenomenal people who will do nothing but great things for this organization.”