During the February break, a group of students from the Ridley Model U.N. and Politics Club travelled to Washington, D.C. to take part in the 53rd North American Invitational Model United Nations (NAIMUN LIII), hosted by the Georgetown International Relations Association. The group consisted of Philip Brenninkmeyer Noel Cousins, Caitlin Hyland, Alex Jones, Gracie Lowes, Daniel O’Rourke and Jesse Wydman, chaperoned by coaches, Mr. Hutton and Mr. O’Rourke.
NAIMUN is a conference that offers students the opportunity to interact with like minded individuals by taking on the rolls of international diplomats, members of parliament, ministers, Catholic cardinals and even CIA operatives. All of this occurs as part of respective conferences and committees that students are assigned to prior to the conference. Ridley students conducted extensive research in preparation for their assignments, which included: the International Atomic Energy Agency, the British House of Commons, the 2012 Chinese Cabinet, the 2012 Papal Conclave and The CIA, post 9/11.
The conference featured over 3000 delegates which, while being mainly from North American schools, sported nationalities from all over the globe. This offered opportunities for friendships (that extended past the borders of Ridley and Canada) to develop. Each committee or council offered its own challenges. Some councils consisted of almost 150 students, while others were made up of as little as 18 students. This meant a varied experience for each student, that may have required intense lobbying to get one’s idea heard over the crown or using their expertise to guide one’s council to the solution of a complex, nuanced political issue. Regardless of the challenge, the Ridley team used the skills it had developed in their weekly meetings, as well as its research in order to stick out from the crowd; prospering and often succeeding in its endeavors.
While the conference schedule was quite rigorous in its nature, it also allowed time for the team to spend exploring the magnificent city of Washington, D.C. Arriving just a few hours before the beginning of the conference, students managed to get a special tour of the U.S. Capitol and Senate offices. The tour included a ride on the Senate subway, which allows for fast and secure transport between offices and the capitol. It was on the subway that students met the president of the Senate and the longest serving U.S. Senator, Orrin Hatch. The group even managed to get a quick picture with him.
While visiting Washington D.C., the group also visited the Polish Embassy, the oldest serving embassy building in the country. The building has remained in service, by no means from a lack of newer real estate, but instead, due to its architectural beauty. Included below are pictures taken at the embassy that sported fabulous paintings wherever space was not already being occupied by the beautiful interior architecture.
The group also had the opportunity to visit the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), located only a stone’s throw away (they will tackle you if you throw stones) from the White House. After the end of the conference on Sunday, students even got to take in a show at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The show was a classic who-done-it, in which the audience guesses the killer, and the oldest running show in the United States, Shear Madness. Our final night in Washington was spent visiting the Lincoln Memorial as well as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.
All in all, the trip offered students the chance to use some of their hard-earned research, lobbying and debating skills acquired over the year in Model U.N., and also provided the opportunity to see how the U.S. government functions and explore the heritage of the United States. The Politics Model U.N. Club looks forward to more great opportunities in the future. The trip was made possible through the generosity of the parents of the students involved, as well as the W. Darcy McKeough’51 Fund supporting Speaking Arts at Ridley College. We are most grateful for the support.
– Philip Brenninkmeyer ‘16