Model UN provides career experience for first time in Marian history


Eden Smith ’24, Claire Bentley ’23, Brianna Sedlak ’24,
Ruthie Barrett ’24, Julia Trainer ’24, Colette Lawler ’23, Bailey Yale ’23, Lauren Young ’23, Ashley Mercer ’24, Tungkang Kuon ’24, Iona Stites ’24, Ximena Perez Silva ’24 and Regina Anyaegbunam ’23 all pose as they sightsee at the Willis Tower in Chicago on Feb. 1. They continued their day venturing the city before the Model UN conference started. Photo courtesy of Julia Trainer.

From Feb. 1 to Feb. 5, Marian students embarked on their first ever school sponsored trip to Model UN. Model UN is an educational simulation where students get to act as an ambassador while debating in order to learn about diplomacy, international relations and the United Nations in general. According to the UNAUSA website, these topics can range from “gender equality, climate action, global health and more.”

English teacher Dr. Renee McGill described Marian as “newbies” to the process of Model UN. Marian began conversations about the conference after Social Studies teacher, Mrs. Katy Salzman’s, experience in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR). Salzman joined Marian’s faculty in 2016. 

Before her teaching career, her experience in the UNHCR took place in Belgium, Switzerland and Rwanda. She had known of the conference because of her former position and thought Marian girls would benefit from the experience.

“We all knew we were first timers, so I think our expectation was to come in well researched,” McGill said. The group held four 7 a.m. meetings prior to leaving for Chicago where they did in-depth research from their two countries, South Sudan and Bhutan. “A lot of it was just research by doing, but the girls made sure to prepare background research,” McGill said. 

Junior Ximena Perez Silva was one of Marian’s 13 representatives on the trip. Her group was assigned the country of Bhutan and they acted as their UN ambassador. “I learned so much representing and researching this country,” she said. The main thing she advocated for was the use of landmines in Bhutan and the surrounding countries. “Although Bhutan is free of these unexploded ordinances, many surrounding countries aren’t,” she said. She also mentioned the “many civilians trying to flee the country due to the force of traditions and customs.”

While on the trip, her enthusiasm only grew. What initially sparked her interest in Model UN was that “it focused more on international policy.” She said, “I wanted to explore a different country, their laws, customs, traditions and educate myself over their government.”

Making the hour-long flight from Omaha to Chicago and devoting so much time to Model UN can seem daunting. “Although I was nervous, I tried my best to go into it with a positive mind,” Perez Silva said. She was mostly scared that “other students would be harsh through their speeches.” However, reflecting on the trip, she had nothing to be worried about. “Students from all over the world came together to formulate different resolutions and policies for our committee,” she said.

Next year McGill described plans for a mock Model UN to make the experience a little more familiar for people who have never been. “We would potentially do this with Creighton Prep and we even talked about a Model UN club as well to generate more interest,” McGill said.

Ultimately, Perez Silva’s impression of the simulation was amazing. “Although I was busy and moving around all day, I had so much fun,” she said. Her current passion for debate and working with others could lead into a future career and she was able to stretch these muscles in Chicago. “Overall, I’m really thankful for the opportunity of being able to participate in Model UN,” she said.

This experience is one that future Marian students will be able to add to their resumes. Model UN does not act as just a quick trip to Chicago, but offers girls the opportunity to act in the field they may someday be working in.

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