More than 1,300 high school students came together recently to exercise their diplomatic skills and knowledge of international affairs at the Washington Area Model United Nations Conference (WAMUNC). Now in its 19th year, WAMUNC is hosted and run entirely by the International Affairs Society (IAS), the largest non-partisan student organization at GW. The majority of WAMUNC staff are Elliott School students.
The planning and creation of WAMUNC takes more than 220 GW students and the process begins an entire year in advance. However, as soon as the high school students arrive, all of the sleepless nights and tireless work becomes worth it, says Fatima Jamal (B.A. '17), Executive Director of WAMUNC XIX.
Though there are dozens of Model UN conferences scattered across the U.S., WAMUNC stands out due to its unbeatable location in the heart of Washington, DC and its effort to immerse students into the city. WAMUNC staff members guide the high school delegates around different areas of the capital. One of the many excursions offered this year was a visit to the National Counterterrorism Center, a destination not seen by many.
When asked if WAMUNC and the Model UN opportunities available at GW influenced their decision to attend the school, a group of six current GW students all responded, “Definitely.” Their commitment to WAMUNC and their passion for the conference was easy to see as they discussed the conference.
In addition to the traditional Model UN General Assembly, WAMUNC incorporates crisis committees as well. The crisis committee staff create a storyline based on contemporary, historical, or even fictional events. Delegates are required to react to the rapidly changing nature of the situation. Strategies can involve kidnapping committee members and staging midnight crises.
“There is a really great passion going around,” said Kenneth Stesin (B.A. ‘17), Senior Advisor to WAMUNC's Secretary General. That same passion still resonated in the voices of the 30 alumni of WAMUNC who attended the Model UN Alumni Reception later Friday evening. Former Secretaries General gathered to reminisce on their time leading the charge and to pass on words of wisdom to Supriya Mazumdar, the Secretary General of WAMUNC XIX.