A Weekend in Crisis

OCA Writer Alexandra Mathew reports on NYU Shanghai's Model United Nations Conference held in the Academic Building this past weekend.

Trash, post- it notes, and pens litter the tables in classroom 209. The white boards are covered in maps and descriptions of countries military power. A war room has been born.

This past weekend, NYU Shanghai hosted its first ever Model United Nations conference. A group of eleven students, headed by sophomores Isabel Adler and Owen Zhang, have worked to produce the conference for the past year. 60 students from ten different schools gathered at NYU Shanghai this weekend to partake in the event.

Model United Nations is an academic debate competition emulating the format of the real United Nations. Students, or “delegates” partake in a series of committee sessions throughout the weekend, discussing real life issues and using debate to formulate solutions. NYUSHMUNC’s first conference was themed “China’s Global Emergence,” and featured three committees; UN Environmental Assembly, chaired by Owen Zhang and freshman Isaac Schalger, FinTech Committee, chaired by freshmen Timur Kurbanov and Tyler Wilson, and a North Korean Nuclear Missile Crisis committee, chaired by sophomore Key Hinerman and freshman Enver Kapetanovic.

For two days, classroom 209 was home to the NYU Shanghai Model United Nations Crisis Committee. Armed with immense political knowledge, and a thirst for stirring up trouble, sophomores Lachlan Mundair, Madison Pelletier, and Matthew Cline spent November 4th and 5th doing their very best to make diplomacy very hard.

Upon first glance NYU Shanghai’s first Model UN conference is exactly what you would expect. Everyone is dressed as if they are already the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. The glow of laptop screens can be seen all around the second-floor café, as high school students prepare for their committees. And finally, NYU Shanghai’s Model UN staff, with their heads held high, are moving swiftly from classroom to classroom making sure their year’s worth of preparation has paid off.

The conference was planned entirely by NYU Shanghai students. The members of the Secretariat, the five students in charge of the conference, found sponsors to donate money. This year, credit company Hua Xia finance was the conference’s title sponsor, and two other companies, V Credit and pharmaceutical company UCB, also joined in.

The Crisis Committee was one of three assemblies that took place over the weekend and was the most entertaining. The purpose of this committee was for its delegates to tackle the North Korean missile crisis while the crisis staff played god and threw obstacle after obstacle in their way. Many times, after a crisis update from the staff, which is just an eloquent way of saying the staff orchestrated another catastrophe, the delegates were visibly unnerved and at a loss for words for what to do next. Some delegates were so surprised by what the staff was coming up with they didn’t even know how their assigned country should respond.

But inside the war room of 209, the crisis staff was all smiles as they mapped out their timeline of events and correspondence across 4 white boards. The entire weekend was a contest of who could come up with the most sinister attack. Madison Pelletier said her refugee crisis turned rogue sleeper agent blitz was “her finest work” in terms of conducting an international terrorist attack. When the delegates in the other room heard of this event, a silence so loud fell over the room no one dared to breathe for a moment. Even the NYU Shanghai faculty observing in the back of the room were shocked.

Conjuring ways to watch the world burn at the hands of North Korea was not the only thing the crisis staff was responsible for. Many times, the staff found themselves in a role reversal. When the delegates in committee in the adjacent room became bloodthirsty, the staff had to find creative ways to de-escalate precarious situations they had made, in order to allow the timeline to continue. Lachlan Mundair said, “we can’t give them too many reasons to declare war on the first day or else we won’t have anything to do tomorrow.” So, the staff continued with their calculated game of cat and mouse, all with eerily cheerful grins on their faces as they wrote their next update.

During the first committee session on Sunday November 5th, it was as if a fire had been lit beneath the delegates. Many that were too shy to speak the day before, became the most outspoken in the room and some even went as far to form alliances behind the backs of the other delegates. They were writing and passing motions in committee that seemed like positive steps in the direction of civil diplomacy. But the crisis staff, always two steps ahead, saw every flaw in every motion passed and rained fire down on the delegates like never before. Committee chair Key Hinerman said, “this is the most interesting crisis committee I have been a part of, the crisis staff is doing an amazing job and we would not have had this level of success without them.”

At the end of the conference, the delegates, even though they had been put through the ringer, were all smiles. Many could be heard in the hallways praising the level of difficulty brought on by the crisis staff. The staff on the other hand looked as if they had actually gone to war. Dresses and suits were wrinkled, ink stained all of their hands, and room 209 resembled more of a city dump, rather than a war room. But the relief on all of their faces could not be overlooked as their first Model UN conference as the crisis committee staff officially closed.

This article was written by Alexandra Mathew. Please send an email to managing@oncenturyavenue.com to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Isabel Adler

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