By Stephanie Zou '16
Growing up in an environment where global awareness and freedom of expression was encouraged, if not enforced, I arrived at Tabor with a profound interest in global affairs and politics. I stumbled upon a student-run club of like-minded peers: Model United Nations.
Tabor’s program is still a growing sapling in comparison to more well-established chapters in other high schools; however, it is swiftly developing as more students find themselves seeking a creative outlet for intellectual interests beyond the classroom. At Model UN conferences, students from all over the nation, or in some cases, all over the world, gather together in a range of committees to discuss global issues. Each student is assigned a country, and throughout the conference he or she is responsible to represent his or her country’s best interests. For example, I may be assigned to be a delegate from the Russian Federation in a Security Council with a focus on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones). As part of my research for the conference, I would have to stay updated on Russian drone activity, and be prepared to face opposition from the United States regarding my involvement in Syria. Each conference is an extremely eye-opening experience and I never fail to learn an exponential amount of information, for my fellow delegates are never hesitant to correct or inform me.
On October 25th, as a senior and co-head of the Model United Nations club, I attended my fourth and last MUN conference hosted at Phillips Exeter Academy. This conference was regarded as a "gateway" conference for high schools across New England, a safe space for beginners to learn the ropes of debate, diplomacy, and public speaking. However, at this conference there are also smaller committees created for more experienced debaters, or as I call it, MUN veterans. I often find myself sitting around a round table surrounded by familiar faces, a close-knit community of students whom I have developed my skills with, graduating from General Assemblies our freshmen year to Security Councils by senior year.
I distinctly remember my attendance at the Exeter conference my freshman year, a first experience and exposure to public speaking worthy of cringe. However, I approached Model UN as a challenge, similar to my mentality with soccer and sailing: practice makes perfect. I signed up for every conference available, ranging from a one day conference at Concord Academy to a three day event at Duke University. My newfound confidence in my classes at Tabor Academy is directly credited to my exposure to hours of public speaking during Model UN. The fear of speaking in front of 12 Tabor students pales in comparison to the trepidation that comes with speaking in front of 120 highly competitive and combative students in a large lecture hall. I can say that Model United Nations has provided me with learning opportunities unavailable in classrooms. At MUN, I am able to apply my historical knowledge from my Tabor professors to real-life world issues and expand my horizons of awareness as a global citizens.
None of this would be possible without our passionate faculty advisor, Mr. Gary Sousa: he has sacrificed all of his winter afternoons, countless Sundays, and myriads weekends to the development of Tabor's Model UN program and his students. Any discussion about Tabor MUN would be lacking without a note of appreciation for him!