Model U.N. Club Building Momentum


The Model UN club at Columbia University in January. Photo courtesy of Sara Bargiel

Students in Model U.N. meet twice a week beginning in the fall to practice research, writing, problem-solving and public speaking.

Students prepare for conferences by researching and discussing international issues such as peace and security, human rights, the environment, food and hunger, economic development and globalization. Topics are provided in advance of the conferences, so students can come prepared.

Senior Asaf Roth, a member of the executive board, said Model U.N. is like a family.

“Model U.N. is one of the closest groups I have ever been a part of,” Roth said.  “I think we are the perfect combination of a fun extracurricular, but at the same time everyone learns a lot about public speaking.”

Beachwood has a strong tradition in Model U.N., and this year the club has seen its share of success.

At the local Cleveland Council of World Affairs (CCWA) conferences this year, many of Beachwood’s individual teams won delegation awards.

Moving on to the two national conferences, CMUNCE (Columbia Model United Nations Conference and Exposition) and MSUMUN (Michigan State University Model United Nations) Beachwood’s teams met stunning success as well.

At CMUNCE on Jan. 12-15, sophomore Abigail Bendis and junior executive board member Kevin Zhang each won a gavel, which is the highest individual award that can be received.

At MSUMUN on March 17-19, the Beachwood delegates won many individual awards which allowed the team as a whole to take Best Small Delegation for the third consecutive year.

Zhang said that when preparing for conferences, it’s important to “stay focused and practice.”

“Being on the executive board, I think you learn a lot just by teaching it,” Zhang said. “Model U.N. is like a skill, so the more you practice public speaking, the more comfortable you get. I think that’s the biggest part of it.”

Zhang has attended CMUNCE for two years now, and both years he has had a great time.

“I’m always excited,” said Zhang. “When I first started doing Model U.N., I was definitely scared and nervous, but now whenever I go into a conference I’m excited because I get to do all these cool things, like getting to know a lot of people from different schools around the nation and spending time with my friends.”

“I never go into a conference like I have to win something,” Zhang said. “I felt pretty confident at CMUNCE, but the gavel is hard to get, so I was definitely really surprised when I won.”

Zhang said that he had expectations for an honorable mention, and was taken aback when his name was announced for a gavel.

“It was crazy; I didn’t know what to say,” said Zhang. “You get to walk up on stage and get the award, and everybody can see you because you’re in this huge auditorium…”

Zhang also explained how winning his first gavel has impacted him.

“It was a relief because I’ve never won a gavel before, and that’s definitely one of the goals I had when I first started Model U.N.,” Zhang said. “I put in a lot of work towards CMUNCE, a lot of time; even though it’s four days and you’re working constantly, and even though it feels gruelling at times, to see that all pay off in that moment and get your name called is pretty special.”

This last season, many newer students have joined the ranks of Model U.N.

“We had a lot of seniors graduate last year, so we have a team of mostly freshmen and sophomores this year,” said Sara Bergiel, who is the current advisor of the club.

Although a significant percentage of the team is underclassmen, the team has remained strong throughout the entire year.

I am very happy with the executive board this year. [They] did a really amazing job preparing the new students for conferences.

— Model UN Coach Sara Bergiel

“A lot of our newcomers won awards,” said junior executive board member Angela Wang.  “It was very impressive; the number of new people we had this year is good in itself, and the improvement that everyone has made is really great, too.”

Not only have many new students with new talents strengthened the club, but Bergiel also notes the great leadership the club has had this season.

“I am very happy with the executive board this year,” said Bergiel.  “[They] did a really amazing job preparing the new students for conferences.”

Wang also noted that the team has “a good dynamic”.

Sophomore Abigail Bendis also mentioned the friendly relationships within her team.

“We’re all really good friends. We all connect together and work well together,” said Bendis.  “We have a lot of fun, but sometimes we can get distracted.”

Wang agreed that over the course of the season, the team sometimes got off track during meetings.

Next year, Wang plans to return to Model U.N. and run for executive board again, continuing to lead the club in improvement and success.

“As a team, I want to continue our streak at Michigan State; we’ve been Best Small Delegation for three years running,” Wang said.

Especially pleased with their performance this year, many members of the team, like Wang, are planning to return next year to accomplish even more.

“We had a very new team this year, and they still exceeded all of my expectations,” said Bergiel. “I am really looking forward to seeing what they can do with some experience.”