GSMUN: Two Decades, Two Speakers

GSMUN's Secretariat. Photo courtesy of Mairead Guy, Hannah Tuten, and Thea Konefal.

GSMUN's Secretariat. Photo courtesy of Mairead Guy, Hannah Tuten, and Thea Konefal.

GSMUN's Secretariat. Photo courtesy of Mairead Guy, Hannah Tuten, and Thea Konefal.

Avery Gagne, Staff Writer

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         On March 24th and 25th, Maggie Walker hosted the twentieth annual Governor’s School Model United Nations Conference, or GSMUN XX. Despite the pressure of such a daunting anniversary, the Model UN club was able to run another successful conference.

        One of the most vital parts of a successful GSMUN is the charity the conference partners with, which this year was Project Hope. When asked to elaborate on what GSMUN’s contribution would be used for, Director of Charitable Givings Ketty Bai (’17) responded by stating “This global health organization will be putting the money towards efforts such as instituting maternal health programs in the Dominican Republic and providing disaster relief to areas around the world.” By the end of the conference, GSMUN had raised enough to make a $10,000 donation to the organization. A large portion of that money was raised through merchandise sales: a combination of past GSMUN shirts designed to capitalize on the 20th anniversary and new products for GSMUN XX designed by Kiersen Mather (’17).

        GSMUN XX also boasted a litany of committees dealing with global issues in both contemporary and historical settings. General Assemblies simulated real multinational organizations and arms of the UN like the United Nations Development Program and SEATO. There were also specialized committees which placed delegates in a more rigorous debate environment featuring topics with a stricter purview. One chair, Priya Singh (’18) described her experience in the Thermodorian Reaction committee, a concept she created herself, “My delegates were enthusiastic to participate in committee, the leadership was very organized and helpful, and the crisis team did a phenomenal job in stirring up debate in my committee. I would strongly encourage anyone to participate in GSMUN next year,” she said.

        This GSMUN also marked the first ever “quad-crisis committee”. This Quad was a series of four individual committees that would interact with one another, necessitating quick reaction to troop movement and legislation across rooms. Though it was quite demanding on its four person crisis staff, consisting of three freshmen and  Kelin Carpenter (’18), the operation went smoothly and was deemed a success. Caroline Brickley (’21), who worked her first GSMUN in this Quad, reminisced on the event by saying “even though it was a little stressful trying to keep up with everything, it was super fun and the time passed really quickly.” Of course, there was also the traditional Joint-Crisis Committee, whose operation was summarized by Quan Chau (’17) with a succinct “it was cray cray!”

        Lastly, GSMUN always holds the esteemed honor to host a renowned guest speaker through its partnership with the Richmond Forum, but this year was able to graciously accept two. The first major speaker was Prime Minister Ehud Barak of Israel, who served through a distinguished military career in the Israeli armed forces before becoming a major leader for the country’s Labor Party. Joining Prime Minister Barak was Mohammad ElBaradei, a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the IAEA and the last Vice President of Egypt. Both dignitaries shared the floor to give a joint address on how to achieve peace in the Middle East. After their address, Barak and ElBaradei were able to take two questions each before they had to retire. The questions had been drafted by delegates ahead of time before being passed on to our chairs to ask the speakers in an organized, efficient fashion.

        Overall, GSMUN XX’s secretariat was able to run a successful conference that hosted hundreds of delegates from approximately 30 different schools. Now, the preliminary preparations for GSMUN XXI have begun. As a final note, Secretary-General Robin Schwartzkopf (’17), the head of the conference, gave some final words looking back on her experience: “GSMUN XX was a great success and I’m very proud of our efforts as a body of students in organizing this conference, which wouldn’t have been possible without the chairs, staffers, and volunteers who helped out. We were honored to host PM Barak and Dr. ElBaradei for a discussion panel and raised $10,000 for a very deserving charity, Project Hope. I’m confident that GSMUN will be even better next year!”

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GSMUN: Two Decades, Two Speakers