From the bottom of the barrel to behind the podium
May 26, 2015
While members of Palmetto’s Model United Nations (MUN) club were accustomed to attending conferences as delegates, the gavels were in their hands this past weekend. 67 enthusiastic middle schoolers filled several classrooms in the 2000s wing on Saturday May 23rd and served as delegates in committees at the first-ever MUN conference hosted by Miami-Dade County’s very own high schoolers.
The executive board of Panther MUN spent three months coordinating the conference. Students from five middle schools comprised four committees that debated global issues, such as the eradication of polio and malaria, ethics of quarantine, and the distribution of pharmaceuticals. Each committee consisted of about nine countries, with two students per country.
“It gave us a different perspective, because we’ve always been the delegates representing the countries,” Vice President and junior Michael Choi said. “This time, we were the chairs and we could decide who would win.”
In addition to being the first MUN event hosted by a high school, all of the proceeds were donated to the U.S. Fund for United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). To attend the conference, each individual middle school student paid $25 and the middle schools themselves paid $40. Due to the event’s non-profit status and national affiliation, U.S. Fund for UNICEF Representative Cynthia Valdez attended and spoke at the conference on behalf of the organization. Among other honored guests, Mayor of Pinecrest Cindy Lerner also attended the inaugural event.
“Panther MUN 2015 was truly a successful event that will likely blossom into greater achievements for Palmetto’s Model United Nations Club further down the road,” MUN President and junior Jeffrey Li said.
Upon requesting feedback from advisors from middle schools which attended the event, Li, serving as Secretary-General of the event, along with Director-General Julian Mayorga received the positive responses they had hoped for. In a response survey, Miami Lakes Middle School Advisor Lisa Deyarza said, “… the students preferred [Panther MUN] to the Miami-Dade conference [a much larger conference run by the district].”
“When I first got on MUN board, the entire club was just nine scared freshman. Now, as less scared juniors, we have over seventy members and are consistently winning awards at every conference,” treasurer and junior Gabriela Akelpi said. “We have accomplished every goal that we have set for ourselves, so hosting Panther MUN was the next step for us. We keep pushing for the next big milestone for the club and I’m so excited for what we will accomplish next year.”