Model United Nations: A Longstanding Sturgis Tradition

Sturgis MUN Delegates at the UN Building in NYC

Model United Nations started at Sturgis Fifteen years ago in 2004 – and throughout its history here, students have represented countries such as  Russia, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Algeria, and North Korea.

Every March, Sturgis students attend NHSMUN in New York City, where as delegates, they debate, defend and argue for the country they represent against students from all over the world. Delegates also have the option of listening to guest speakers in conferences during their participation in NHSMUN. Last year, they had the chance of listening to the son of one of the 9/11 attackers. They asked questions, reflected and experienced an enriching, unforgettable moment. M.U.N. has come a long way since 2004; below you will read accounts from recent and previous delegates and sponsors as well as delve into the Stormwatch and Soundings archives for some highlights of Sturgis MUN over the years.

Nicole Waldron, Sturgis West Senior MUN Member

Model United Nations is a club that I surprisingly became very passionate about over the last few years. This upcoming March will be my third time attending NHSMUN. Getting the chance to go to New York where the real United Nations is located and going to the NHSMUN conference is always such a fun experience. Since NHSMUN is the world’s largest high school simulation, while at your conference you meet people from around the world. No other club that I know of gives you this experience to actually interact and go out to lunch with other students from all different countries. This club has really opened me to make new friendships. I know before I went to NHSMUN the first time I was very scared to stand up and talk in front of 100+ people in our committee meetings. However, after my first time in front of everyone I realized it was not bad. NHSMUN gives you the opportunity to publicly speak without the fear of being judged since all the students there have the same passion and love for the club and thus support you in a way.

Mr. Matt Fetzer, Current MUN Advisor – East

I have been advising NHSMUN for 15 years and feel that it is a fantastic program in the skill set that it offers the students and the deep dive into current international issues. After getting assigned a country, the students are then assigned a committee and tasked with investigating a current challenge specific to it. Researching and writing a position paper focuses their understanding as they prepare to defend their country’s national interest and policy at the Conference in NYC every March. It is a four-day Conference and the students must find ways to compromise and think on their feet as they try to write a “resolution” stating the committee’s official view on a topic. Topics include security and disarmament, economics/finance, social issues, the environment, world health and international crime to name a few. Aside from the skills and knowledge that the students get out of this, I love the fact that this is so fully consistent with the international mission of the IB. Our students return to Sturgis having met others from around the world and deeply engaged issues of global importance. I look forward to advising for years to come.

Jeff Hyer, Former MUN Advisor – Sturgis East & West

I served as the co-advisor for MUN for about 10 years. My major job was trip logistics from curb to curb and back.  I enjoyed working with the students every year because they were genuinely excited to learn international diplomacy using real-world scenarios and current events. Of course, it helped that the conference was in New York City, as students from around the world attended, and the students got to attend the closing ceremony at the United Nations. For many students who attended for several years in a row, it helped them make the connections with their IB Learner Profile and many of their classes at Sturgis

Nathan Balk-King, West Senior, Organizes Native American Delegation at National High School MUN 2019

Nathan Balk-King (center, tallest member of back row) and the 2019 members of the Model UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

Nathan Balk-King, West Senior class of 2019, was commended in a letter from Chris Talamo, the Executive Director of International Model United Nations, for seeking to include underrepresented communities in future conferences.  This year Model United Nations simulated the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues for the first time.  For the full text of the letter and media coverage of Nathan’s accomplishment, see the text and links below!

To whom it may concern,

My name is Chris Talamo, Executive Director of the International Model United Nations Association (IMUNA). I am writing this letter on behalf of Nathan Balk King, founder of MUN: Indigenous, to support his work to bring global issues education to Native American students across the United States. Nathan is organizing a group of students to attend the National High School Model United Nations Conference (NHSMUN), the world’s largest high school MUN conference. Each year, the NHSMUN conference attracts the world’s best debaters and brings them together with the leaders of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), UN ambassadors, and top academic thinkers.

At MUN conferences, students step into the shoes of UN diplomats and experience first-hand the challenges of global diplomacy. Students are each assigned a country to represent and a UN committee to simulate, engaging in deep research about two topics on that committee’s agenda. Once at the conference, students debate these topics with their peers from all over the world, each representing a different country, and they strive to find areas for compromise among their differing policies. In the process of simulating the UN, the students discover new things about themselves and their role in addressing the great issues the world faces today.

Nathan has experienced the transformational effect that NHSMUN has on students first-hand, serving as a delegate at the 2018 NHSMUN conference. He has taken initiative that far exceeds his peers by seeking to include underrepresented communities in future conferences. Nathan recognizes the importance of spreading global issues education, and IMUNA has offered Nathan and MUN: Indigenous its full support to bring MUN education to Native American communities. This year, we are proud to be simulating the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues for the first time, and we are working closely with Nathan to ensure that Native American voices are included in this new space. We look forward to our continued work with MUN: Indigenous and supporting its important mission.

If you would like any further information or have questions about NHSMUN, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Attending NHSMUN is a unique opportunity for the students to enhance their knowledge and experience with modern global conflicts, and I thank you in advance for your assistance and support of this great program.

Chris Talamo
Executive Director
International Model United Nations Association (IMUNA)

Cape Cod Times-Sioux Tribe Member from Provincetown Leads Student UN Delegation

Cape Cod Today: Sturgis Charter Student Makes an Impact with Model United Nations

Wicked Local Truro: Nathan Balk-King Organizes Native American Youth for Model UN

Sturgis Stormwatch, April 2019: Sturgis Students Attend Annual Model UN Conference in NYC

by Jerry Curran 

From March 6 to March 9, Sturgis East and West students took part in the National High School Model United Nations conference in New York City. The event gave Sturgis students the opportunity to debate and develop solutions to global issues that are impacting our world today. Participants in this conference acted as delegates representing the current member states of the United Nations. This year, Sturgis East represented Mexico. No matter what country each student spoke on behalf of, everyone had a common goal of finding peace and unity.

Once the buses arrived at the New York Hilton Midtown, Sturgis students quickly introduced themselves to their fellow delegates. With fast-approaching deadlines to formulate resolutions that addressed the views of the 193 United Nations member states, delegates had to communicate and collaborate with each other in a timely manner. In the hours leading up to the final committee session, sponsors of different resolutions emphatically shared their views with others to ensure that their resolution would pass. Therefore, it was an incredibly rewarding feeling to hear delegates fill the room with applause after certain resolutions passed.

On the final day of the session, students were able to enter the UN General Assembly Hall for an awards ceremony.  The National High School Model United Nations conference is a perfect platform for students to embody what it means to be an IB student. Both the IB and NHSMUN seek to promote peace and global citizenship. By learning about issues that affect people from all walks of life, students recognize their responsibility to help the global community.  Many thanks to Mr. Fetzer and Ms. Manrique for helping Sturgis East students attend this event. The trip would not have been possible without them. We look forward to seeing Sturgis East’s MUN club take part in NHSMUN again next year.

Former Sturgis MUN member continues her passion in college

Posted: 23 Mar 2016 06:02 AM PDT, Sturgis Stormwatch

By Mark Agostinelli

Megan Agostinelli, 2nd from Right

Model United Nations is an extracurricular activity in which high school students from around the world role-play as delegates of specific countries and simulate United Nations committees.  Each year, dozens of Sturgis students attend the National High School Model United Nations (NHSMUN) conference in New York City along with thousands of other students. It is a great opportunity to gauge your interest in foreign relations, make new lifelong friends, and even take pictures with Mickey Mouse in Times Square!

If you greatly enjoyed this activity in high school and would love to continue participating in college, you’re in luck!  NHSMUN is composed of college students, and one of them could be you! Sturgis Stormwatch recently sat down with alumni Meghan Agostinelli, a junior at Georgetown University who is the under-secretary general for NHSMUN, to learn more about how one could get involved.

Why did you originally decide to apply for staff?
As a Sturgis student, I attended the National High School Model United Nations Conference (NHSMUN) once as a reporter for the StormWatch and twice as a delegate. I really enjoyed the experience and did not want to stop doing Model UN in college, so I decided to apply to be an Assistant Director at NHSMUN 2014.

What do you enjoy most about being a part of NHSMUN staff?
First of all, I find it incredible how a group of 98 volunteer college students thoroughly research some of the most current international issues and then guide 4,000 high school students in finding solutions to these problems.  Additionally, NHSMUN staffers are some of the kindest and funniest people I have ever met.  The people that I am fortunate enough to work with in this organization definitely play a part as to why I have chosen to be here for the past three years.

What is the level of commitment?
The time commitment at the Assistant Director level is very manageable. The AD project that requires the most time is the writing of the short Update Paper, which is written over winter break. Other than that, an AD has other small projects to complete such as tweeting relevant articles from the committee and bonding with other staff members.

Who is eligible to apply?
High school seniors or college freshmen are eligible to apply as Assistant Directors.

Ben Judelson, West Class of 2017, reflects on his MUN experience

The learning outcomes I planned to meet were collaboration, global values, and ethics. I feel I was successful in achieving all of these learning outcomes as shown through my reflections. Model United Nations is impossible without collaboration. Collaboration is inherent to any debate, or the formation of any resolution – not to mention the responsibilities of participating in club meetings. I feel that my skills in person to person communication, as well as my skills as a listener have improved throughout my time in MUN. Additionally, my global values were strengthened immensely. My consciousness of world events and the world around me has become much greater over the past 2 years, and I think a lot of that is because of MUN. Participating in the conferences and debates, as well as meeting people from all around the world has really broadened my horizons and made me not only aware of many more problems in the world, but also the vast implications of issues which I had previously thought of as small. Similarly, my sense of ethics and morality has also changed.

When studying the different perspectives of people around the globe, you gain a better understanding and ability for seeing the other side of the argument and being more open to other positions. MUN is really great for that because you are often forced to assume a country’s position which may not agree with your own. While this is difficult at the time, it is great practice for your mind to accept views which might differ from your own, and find ways to approach them academically, calmly, and objectively which is sometimes really hard to do. This is also tied to my journey in TOK where we explored the different biases one can be influenced by, as well as limitations to the different ways of knowing, and the inherent cultural differences around the globe and throughout history. Overall I found MUN to be a very educational and enjoyable which has really given me insight into culture, debate, and politics on a level which I would not have had the experience before. Thanks to Lily and Nate for making me sign up at the beginning of junior year!

Camille Manrique – Sturgis MUN Advisor


Camille Manrique speaks at MEMUN Conference – American University of Sharjah

Congratulations to Camille Manrique, Sturgis East Spanish teacher, for helping organize the first Middle East Model United Nations (MEMUN) conference held in the United Arab Emirates in November 2016. The Non-Profit she co-founded, International Partners for Peace, has been training Emirati students and teachers for the past 2 years on MUN, leadership skills, public speaking and solving global issues through dialogue. With the support of the Ministry of Education, they were able to hold this first conference at the American University of Sharjah.

Ms. Manrique said,”It was incredible to work with students in another country, especially in a region which is in so much need of peace. I look forward to sharing my experience not only with the Sturgis MUN Club students, but also with all my students.”

Check out the following video about the conference: MEMUN Conference 2016 – American University of Sharjah

Sturgis StormWatch, the East student newspaper, featured the following article about her experience.

Uniting a Generation

Originally published in Sturgis StormWatch  Reprinted with permission.

 by Jerry Curran, Freshman Class Reporter

On November 8, 2016, Camille Manrique, a Spanish teacher at Sturgis East, embarked on a five day trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to attend a Model United Nations conference. She was able to inspire many young students in the UAE through her work, and she has plenty to share about the event.

Camille Manrique “started a Non-Profit called the International Partners for Peace, which organizes MUN Models, teacher and student training sessions and different programs directed towards the promotion of peace.” The Middle East Model UN was held at the University of Sharjah and simulated how the UN works. It allowed students to represent a country and debate world issues from that country’s point of view to find solutions.

I was able to catch up with Ms. Manrique personally and ask her a few questions about the trip. In order to help this project reach its fullest potential, Ms. Manrique was surrounded by other teachers from a multitude of different countries including Columbia, Peru, Pakistan, and Malta. Clearly, she was running a very professional project, so I wondered how the students would respond to the “big stage.” They had never been a part of something so massive. In response, she said that, “Public speaking can be very scary for any person. At first students were very nervous and shy. They didn’t know any of the students or delegates in their committees and in some cases needed a lot of guidance on the procedure and topics. However, once they realized that they were all there to learn and develop different skills, you could see the way they immediately assumed the role they had to. They then began speaking and expressing their ideas in front of the whole committee. You could see them interacting and exchanging ideas with each other in a very respectful and diplomatic way in order to find solutions to the world issues they were discussing.”


Students and teachers from all over the world gathered to participate in MUN

 It is truly amazing how Ms. Manrique was able to leave such an impact on the global community. With all the experience she gained overseas, I can only imagine how her classes at Sturgis East will be affected. I asked her this very question, and she replied that, “with this trip I continued to develop a lot of skills that I can use in class and hopefully pass on to my students. Working with students in other parts of the world makes me realize how much potential all students have in becoming the leaders in heir communities.”

Sturgis East should be extremely proud of the feat Camille Manrique has accomplished. By traveling to new places all across the world and interacting with people of unique backgrounds, Ms. Manrique has opened the door to new possibilities for the youth in the UAE and in the halls of Sturgis.


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