Michigan Congressman Andy Levin and Representative Mari Manoogian of the Michigan House of Representatives visited Bloomfield Hills High School to encourage students participating in the recent Model United Nations (MUN) conference to continue to be a part of solving tough issues.
More than 800 high schoolers from area schools, plus some from Canada attending virtually, were part of the 26th Annual Southeast Michigan Model UN Association (SEMUNNA) Conference hosted by the BHHS Model UN Club. MUN is an academic simulation of the United Nations where students play the role of delegates from different countries and attempt to solve real-world issues with the policies and perspectives of their assigned country. “We appreciate our Representatives taking the time to come to BHHS on a Saturday morning,” said Club Advisor and BHHS Teacher Matt MacLeod. “We also have about 70 students and 50 adults working to support this event. It is definitely exciting to be back in person.”
BHHS MUN Co-Leaders Ali Allam (grade 12) and Natalie Tsimhoni (grade 11) kicked off the conference in the gymnasium and introduced the speakers. “To come here on a Saturday morning and see hundreds of high school students ready to participate in Model UN is really encouraging,” said Congressman Levin to the crowd. “I don't see how we can solve our problems without a lot more multilateral discussions and a lot more mutual understanding.” Levin also recommended that students look ahead to how they can serve their country in the future by studying world languages and considering foreign service as a career. “It's a really small planet,” said Levin. “It’s a gorgeous planet with a lot of problems, and it is getting smaller every day.”
Representative Manoogian, who participated in MUN through high school and college and then worked at the State Department, said students should recognize how useful Model UN skills are in their daily lives. “I learned cross-cultural competencies,” said Manoogian, “working with people from multiple backgrounds and cultures to get the best outcomes.”
After the opening ceremonies, students headed to classrooms where they spent the day serving on various committees that debated issues around combating misinformation, protecting the ocean, and pandemic preparedness.
Sofia Marra (grade 12), who has been on Model UN for the past four years, was a co-chair in a committee room. “This is my second time chairing so I want to be a mentor for the delegates so they know it’s not that scary,” said Marra. “At my first conference I didn't speak once, and now I’m running a conference! It’s different and exciting for me to see the difference from where I was to where I am now. I want everyone to have a learning experience that they will remember the next time they go to a new conference.”
Another co-chair, Jimin Lee (grade 12), loves the collaboration that happens in each committee room. “We get to see so many different personality types that really come forward in the debate,” said Lee, who also has done Model UN all four years of high school. “There's the powerful person who can take over the room, and there are some people who have good points but who aren’t that vocal. It’s great to work with all those types of people and make resolutions with them.”
For more information or to get involved in Model UN, contact Advisor MacLeod or visit the Model UN Club page.