By Anat Berday-Sacks
My sister tried to convince me to watch the TV show House of Cards. I didn’t get past the first episode but I saw enough to know that I had lived through my own version of the political drama. The maneuvering, undermining, and manipulation is all there at Model UN, but since YU runs it for high schoolers there is also mincha and fried chicken. I have participated in Yeshiva University’s Model United Nations- otherwise known as YUNMUN- for the last two years. In a hotel temporarily taken over by hundreds of other Jewish teens- some from South Africa and well, Canada – I did my own plotting with fellow up-and-coming diplomats.
Model UN is much simpler than the real UN. Each participating school is assigned one or more countries to represent, and students prepare to act as delegates for their country. At the convention, each student, representing his or her country, joins a committee along with other students, and each committee has a specific subject they focus on. The groups range from the World Health Organization to the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. Your goal at the convention is to have your committee discusses two pass a resolution that your country would support. For instance, I chose to represent Saudi Arabia. In the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. That may seem antithetical, but I had strong allies in Iran and North Korea. It was a challenge to make any progress and pass a resolution, but representing a minority opinion forced me to find creative ways to persuade people to join my coalition.
Mr. Cooper, who teaches U.S. History, A.P. U.S. History, Economics at ICJA, runs the club and accompanied us to the convention in Stanford, Connecticut. Why does it occur in a hotel in the middle of nowhere, Connecticut? Lets just say YU took advantage of having hundreds of Jewish day school teens with no where to go as an opportunity to advertise and prove how great YU/STERN are. They brought Chief Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks to speak to us, they served endless chocolate chip cookies, and they gave us free YUNMUN knapsacks to hold our YU pens and YU texting gloves…capitalism it may be, but I’m not complaining.
Especially since I came to Ida Crown after freshman year, which I had spent at public school in my hometown of Indianapolis. I was interested in current events, but I gave up on participating in Model UN because the conference was over Shabbat. But when I transferred to Ida Crown, I knew there would be more extracurricular options for me. Being able to do YUNMUN epitomized the opportunities ICJA offers me.