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University Hosts the 23rd Annual High School Model United Nations Competition

On March 11 and March 12, 290 delegates from Cuba, Germany, China, Jordan and other countries gathered together to discuss the world’s most pressing issues, such as famine, drug trafficking and the rights of undocumented immigrants. While this might seem like the yearly session for the General Assembly of the United Nations, these delegates were actually high school students from throughout New Jersey who gathered in the classrooms of Pope Hall for the 23rd Annual High School Model United Nations (SPUHSMUN), hosted by Saint Peter’s University and the Guarini Institute for Government and Leadership. This year’s conference was led by Secretary General Carlos Gonzalez ’14 and Under Secretary Mary Zeoli ’15, along with other students from the University who participate in the United Nations Student Alliance Group – an action oriented program focused on educating and mobilizing students to support the principles of the United Nations.

“The program is organized by the students of Saint Peter’s with the support of faculty and the administration,” said Executive Director of the Guarini Institute for Government and Leadership Nicholas Chiaravalloti, J.D. “We hope the program encourages high school students to develop a better understanding of global issues, as well as international diplomacy.”

The SPUHSMUN, which consisted of more than 300 high school students, formed eight committees. Marist High School represented the United States, Japan and Vietnam; Paramus Catholic represented France and the United Kingdom; Christ the King represented China and Holy See; Manasquan High School represented Syria, Germany and Iran; Tenafly High School represented Russia and Cuba; West Milford represented Jordan; West Orange High School represented South Korea; and Rising Star Academy represented Egypt and Lebanon, among other high schools. All delegations served on each committee, including the United Nations Security Council.

“This is my third year participating in this event,” said Peter Amerman, a senior at Manasquan High School and a delegate of Germany. “I learned a lot about other countries and their global views. It’s interesting because it’s not the students’ personal views on a particular topic. We had to research our countries and take the same stance they have.”

“At times it could be frustrating because everyone’s perspective is different, but it’s cool to come to a compromise on things,” he added.

This year, delegates from the various countries discussed, debated and deliberated on hot topics such as chemical and biological weapons, biodiversity, healthcare and water sanitation.

“The United Nations isn’t just about diplomacy, it’s also about social justice, the environment and more,” said Gonzalez. “All of these things come together at the United Nations. It’s a lot of work because you’re trying to get all of these cultures and different perspectives of each delegate from each country to come together and agree on something.”

During a session for water sanitation, a high school representative for Saudi Arabia stated his country was facing a scarcity of water, and asked delegates from other countries their viewpoints on how this problem could be approached. A delegate from Jordan suggested desalinization – the removal of salts and other chemicals from seawater.

“By doing this, some nations will have water,” the Jordan delegate stated. “For those nations that are not close to a water source, we could distribute clean water and seeds to help those lands.”

Amerman said that Germany was concerned about cyber security, and brought this issue up during one of the sessions.

“The United States infiltrated our cyber security,” he said. “Even though we are allies, we had to go against them to keep our sovereignty. A lot of other countries agreed with this viewpoint.”

At the conclusion of the two-day conference, awards were presented for such categories as “Outstanding Delegate,” “Outstanding Delegation” and “Best Position Paper.”

The SPUHSMUN is a yearly event at the University. Last year, more than 200 students from 13 high schools representing 18 delegations participated in the conference.

To learn more about future Guarini Institute for Government and Leadership events at Saint Peter’s University, please visit saintpeters.edu/guarini-institute/news-and-events.