On Sunday Nov. 17, Kingswood Oxford hosted eight schools at the eighth annual Kingswood Oxford Model United Nations Conference, or KOMUN. The conference was led by KO’s Upper School students for middle school students coming from all over Connecticut. Schools that attended included Tolland, Bristow, Smith, Solomon Schecter, Westfield Academy, Killingly, and Kingswood Oxford.
Every student was assigned a country and a committee. Countries represented included Afghanistan, Canada, Brazil, France, India, Thailand, South Korea, United Kingdom, Russia, and the United States, to name a few. The two committees this year were Global Economics and the “Race to the Bottom” (International Labor Organization), and Global Health and Infectious Disease (World Health Organization).
Each committee had three rooms. Towards the end of the conference, each committee room drafted two or three resolutions depending on how many groups were formed among the members of the committees. They were submitted to the chairs, who typed the resolutions and helped to edit them. Then, they projected them on the white board. The chairs, KO Upper School students, introduced the resolutions to the whole committee, and all the delegates voted.
Following the conference was the awards ceremony, which took place in Roberts Theater. In each room, the chairs gave four awards, two honorable delegate awards, one outstanding delegate award, and one best delegate award. At the awards ceremony, the chairs of each room presented the awards. “Seeing how happy everybody is and seeing how wonderful of a job the kids do, whether they’re chairs, or the delegates, I love it!” history teacher and Model UN faculty advisor Stacey Savin said.
KOMUN was founded by Ms. Savin in 2012. During the summer of 2012, Ms. Savin taught a Model UN class at the John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth in Pasadena, California. After returning to Connecticut, she proposed the idea of having the school host a Middle School Model UN conference, as there was not one in the state.
One of the challenges of the first few conferences was getting the word out. “None of the middle schoolers knew what it was, so I had to get in touch with either the principal or social studies head of every middle school and explain what Model UN was,” Ms. Savin said. “They were wonderful,and many of them signed on, and from the first conference it was a gigantic hit.” Since then every school has returned to the KOMUN conferences, unless the school’s teacher left that school.
The seven KOMUN conferences prior to this year’s conference were held on the first Sunday of March. This year, Ms. Savin decided that the conference would be held in November due to the Italy Model UN trip in March that she and many KO Upper School students will be attending, some who were chairs for KOMUN.
This made it more challenging for the chairs and the delegates to prepare because there was less time. “I was worried that they wouldn’t have enough time to prepare, but they did,” Ms. Savin said. “You only have two and half months versus six months to prepare.”
Despite the time constraint, Ms. Savin thought that it worked out well. “Everybody liked November better,” she said. “In March, we lucked out in the past that we didn’t have snow. That was always a worry, and it was the first day of March break and kids were exhausted, so this has worked out better.”
Ms. Savin thought that KOMUN gave the Upper School students a great opportunity to prepare for the Yale Model UN conference, which many KOMUN chairs will be attending.
She also said that it was a great opportunity for middle school students to be introduced and exposed to Model UN, as it is a popular activity in many high schools and universities. “There’s so much virtualness, and the reason why Model UN is so popular because it is actuallness,” she said. “It’s a hugely popular activity in colleges, high schools and even in middle schools.”
Upper School Model UN students will be heading to Yale for the Yale Model United Nations conference from Jan. 23-26, 2020.