Model UN team sees issues from varied perspectives

Jenny Newman, Outside News Editor

Shalhevet’s Model United Nations team returned Feb. 23 from the Yeshiva University Model United Nations (YUNMUN) conference with two awards for the 10-delegate team, representing the United States and Sierra Leone in a wide range of committees and organizations. 

Senior David Soroudi won a gavel in the Committee on Worldwide Events, representing the United States, while junior Ariella Benji, who represented Sierra Leone on the World Food Organization Committee, won Honorable Mention.

Other team members served on the International Court of Justice, Terrorism Prevention Committee, Committee against Torture, Conflict Resolution Committee, International Bank for Reconstruction and Redevelopment, Middle East Summit, Security Council, Committee for Worldwide Events, and the World Meteorological Organization. Josh Feder was captain.

“I’ve done it for three years now, and every year I can tell that I’m improving,” said senior Talia Reich, who was on the Committee Against Torture. “It’s nice being able to argue with other Jews, too.”

YUNMUN is an all-Jewish event that holds no sessions on Shabbat. This year’s winner was YULA.

“I had a really great time, and personally, my committee was a lot more challenging and also a lot more fair than my committees have been in the past,” siad Ariella Benji. “It was a great conference, regardless of how many awards we won.”

At Model U.N., students are assigned to a country whose needs and policies they research, and then they look at a particular issue from that country’s perspective. The World Food committee debated the usefulness of biodiesel fuel (fuel made from food) and searched for more efficient ways to get food to war-torn areas.

“It’s tough representing a small country that’s war-torn and hungry,” said Ariella. “Why would my country want to use food for fuel when we don’t even have enough food for our people to eat? The U.S. has a lot of food to spare and they aren’t as impoverished.”

Ariella said no resolution was reached on the subject of biofuel, but the committee did agree on a policy to accompany food delivery convoys with armed patrols.

The team was accompanied by longtime coaches Mr. Tranchi and Ms. Berkey.

“The conference can be very frustrating,” said Ms. Melanie Berkey, English department chair and lead advisor for the Model United Nations team.

“You can’t measure the value of this program or this conference in awards, because there are just too many factors working against us,” she continued. “I feel that so long as we make it into the running for the awards, we’ve done very well, and it was worthwhile.”

When the conference was over, eight of the 10 student delegates went on to the Penn Model Congress trip (see related story, page 1) without returning to Los Angeles, spending a total of nine days on the East Coast.

Community Editor Jaclyn Kellner contributed to this story.