It’s safe to assume that no high school students are able to say that they were a delegate for Venezuela on the United Nations’s CEDAW.

I guess I’m an exception.

Starting high school is tough — but it’s even harder when you’re coming from halfway across the country… Or so I thought, until I moved to Chicago from Boston and started at Ida Crown. My first week as a freshman was not at all what I expected. My teachers were kind and understanding, my classmates invited me to more events than I could physically attend, but what really drew me in to the ICJA community was the sheer amount of extracurriculars offered here.

Although I love all my classes, especially AP Bio, AP Calculus, and Accelerated Gemara, one of my favorite parts of my day here is Model UN.

My involvement with Model UN began when I was in tenth grade. I represented Cambodia at UNEP, the United Nation’s Environment Program, my sophomore year, and then Venezuela at CEDAW, The United Nations’s Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, my junior year. Both meets were held at Yeshiva University’s annual National Model United Nations convention in Stamford, Connecticut. I worked hard to prepare for the conventions, studying my countries, my committee’s issues, and the United Nations’s history. Mr. Cooper, who oversees the club, taught us all how to speak effectively, convince collectively, and be unrelentingly driven. These lessons have proven to be successful: I won an Honorable Mention and a Best Delegate award in the past two years I’ve done Model UN.

In case you think that the lessons I learned in Model UN have stayed in the conference room, I’d like to assure you that they have applied to all aspects of my life. My public speaking has improved tremendously, I am able to think quickly on my feet, I can write a killer position paper, and of course, I can now discuss the Khmer Rouge regime on Cambodia for hours upon hours.

My experience with Model UN is not a unique one by any means. Every single Academy delegate has had a positive experience with the club, gaining valuable life lessons that carry on far further than the classroom. I am grateful to be part of Model UN; it has impacted my life more than I thought an after-school club was able to.