By Aaron Shaykevich, Opinions Editor
In 10th grade, I applied to join my high school’s Model United Nations (UN) team. Equipped with decent public speaking skills and some knowledge of international affairs, I was accepted to the team. That year, I was fortunate enough to be a part of CSW, the Commission on the Status of Women, chaired by a now former Editor in Chief of the YU Observer, Kira Paley. For me, there was no other thrill like YUNMUN (Yeshiva University National Model United Nations). The experience of debating over serious issues that are in our world today, speaking up for what the country I represented believed in, and working together with others was transformational to me. We came to resolutions through debate and discussion, with many diverse countries involved. My favorite memory was right before we planned to take a break for lunch; the staff gave us paper and craft sticks, with which we created signs to march around the hotel chanting slogans such as “my body my choice.” While parading around the halls of the hotel, chanting for women’s rights, I realized model UN is not just about working towards winning an award. It is about working with others to inspire change.
On March 13, 2022, I will be going to Connecticut for YUNMUN XXXII. This year, however, it will not be as a student delegate but as an administrative assistant in the Security Council. My focus has now shifted from making change to being the one inspiring others to make that change. By assisting my chair in organizing the committee, fact-checking, and creating a good environment, I will be assisting in creating an environment of professionalism as well as expertise. While I don’t know exactly how it will play out, my hope is to convert our students’ knowledge of the topics at hand into something more tangible. For example, while many of us sit comfortably in the U.S. and listen to the news of Russia’s terrorism and war crimes against Ukraine, there are millions of people fearful for their lives. Making international issues, such as this one, more tangible and something that students can comprehend not just from watching the news is my goal for this YUNMUN.
There’s more to it than that, though. YU admissions sponsor it, and about half of the YUNMUN staff are part of the “media center.” Furthermore, all the staff in YUNMUN were trained this year in how to respond to certain questions regarding Yeshiva University. I am happy that we have this advertising component, where students are informed about parts of YU. Only about 50 colleges host Model UN events, and YU is the only Jewish college to do so. From an admissions standpoint, I think YUNMUN is just bringing to light the fact that YU cares about international issues, offers academic extracurriculars, and is also the only school to do so with a Jewish environment. YUNMUN, an event bringing Jewish students together to discuss international issues, seems to be the inevitable creation of a school like YU.
While some believe that “YU should reconsider YUNMUN,” there certainly is merit to maintaining it. From both an academic and an admissions standpoint, it’s a win-win. Students learn more and are introduced to a college that may fit their hashkafa [ideology] more than they thought. The only downside of YUNMUN, in my opinion, is that it’s only 2 days.
Photo Credit: Yeshiva University