GSMUC XXII’s Record Breaking Success

Kate Farmer, News Editor

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Every year, Maggie Walker students look fondly back upon their hard work, long hours, and fun times at Governor’s School Model United Nations, or GSMUN. This year, however, they have even more to smile about.

The conference, which took place on March 22nd-23rd, marked GSMUN’s 22nd anniversary. It welcomed 500 delegates from across the Mid-Atlantic, as far away as Illinois, and was headed by senior Som Mohapatra, serving as Secretary General. The yearly theme was “Take Charge of Tomorrow,” which Mohapatra, in conference letter, described as a representation of American youth’s potential and their role as the “leaders of tomorrow, helping to navigate world politics when the onus of global leadership falls upon [them].”

Every year, the club works together under a Secretariat of hardworking student leaders with the goal of making a community impact; The club encourages student involvement in international affairs and raises money for a charitable cause. The staff works year-round to ensure that the conference runs smoothly and serves as a memorable weekend for the delegates that attend.

For most volunteers, staff members, and delegates, the highlight was the conference’s record breaking donation. Every year, the money raised by the conference is donated to a charity of the Secretariat’s choice. This year, they selected the World Pediatric Project, breaking both their $10,000 goal and the conference’s all-time record with a donation of $13,000. The GSMUN XXII website described it’s purpose as “dedicated to the treatment of children in need of lifesaving care, creation of reliable healthcare networks in developing countries, and training of local health professionals to become more capable at diagnosing and treating complex illnesses.” Sarah Iracane, the organization’s Chief Program Officer, spoke as the conference’s charity speaker. Commented Director of Press and Publications Yumna Rahman (‘19), “GSMUN XXII was an incredible weekend, not only because of the critical diplomacy and resolutions formed in every committee, but also because of the immense fundraising efforts.” Enthusiastic, Rahman cited fellow senior Narmeen Rashid as the driving force behind the unprecedented donation and commented on her immense gratitude: “The entire Secretariat couldn’t have been happier with how it turned out.”

In addition to the charitable aspect, attendees had the privilege of hearing conference speaker Ian Bremmer thanks to a partnership with the Richmond Forum. Bremmer is the President and founder of Eurasia Group, a leading global political risk research and consulting firm. Also an author, public speaker, and prolific thought leader, Bremmer discussed the state of global politics and modern partisan polarization. Crisis staffer Alex Broening (‘20), was one of many students impressed by Bremmer’s message. “To all of us, he seemed a bright and intelligent person with a deep understanding of the world, and his energetic speaking engaged the delegates and gave them a lot about the world to consider,” noted Broening.

Beyond the illustrious speakers and charitable drives, the conference also serves as a fun and rewarding experience for Maggie Walker students. The conference hosted 19 different committees, including crisis committees and specialized subject committees, each sporting different areas of discussion debate. Julia Ochsenhirt (‘20) volunteered as one of the many student heads, or “chairs”, of GSMUN committees. Described Ochsenhirt, who chaired an international crisis committee, “[My committee] was especially fun because of how the students got to interact… My delegates had numerous “meetings” out in the hallway with delegates from the Nicaea/Latin Empire committees, and at one point we even simulated a panel with delegates from the Nicaea committee…That kind of cross-committee interaction is something you don’t often see at model UN conferences, and I thought it was a really cool experience. It also seemed like my delegates had a lot of fun with it.”

After this year’s success, the GSMUN staff has a bold and bright future ahead of them. At least, Richard Zhai (‘20), who served as Director of Technology, certainly thinks so. Zhai stated, “I can’t wait for GSMUN XXIII, where we hope to not only live up to the past successes but surpass them.”

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