Bronx Science’s Model United Nations Regains the Full Experience

After more than two years of online centered Model UN, the team is now halfway through an ambitious in-person year.


Orit Huberman

Here is the Bronx Science Model UN Team after a successful weekend conference at Brown University.

“Any motions to resume debate?” inquired the committee chair as he leaned forward. After returning from a break in the comfort of home, each of the delegates in the Zoom room sprung up to raise a virtual hand. A grid of panels on a computer screen captured the essence of the majority of the Model United Nations experience during the 2020-2021 year of remote learning. However, now that school has been back in person during the past 2021-2022 academic year and the current 2022-2023 academic year, the Model United Nations team at Bronx Science is having a fruitful two years of in-person events, again. 

A key aspect of Model United Nations (Model UN or MUN) is the privilege of traveling, both in-state and abroad occasionally. However, due to restrictions imposed as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the conferences that gave these opportunities were in jeopardy.

During this current 2022-2023 academic year, the Bronx Science MUN team geared up for two conferences in November 2022 at New York University and Brown University with the opportunity for varsity members to compete in person. Both conferences were held online last year in November 2021, and members of Bronx Science’s team couldn’t be more excited to rise to the challenge of an in-person event this year. Matteo Rollin ’25, the Deputy Under Secretary General, said, “While the fact that our conferences this year are in person is different from previous years, most of us look forward to the extra challenge and fun that comes with going to other schools for conferences.” 

Model UN is still consistent with the general structures of committees. There are three main divisions of Model UN committees: General Assembly (GA), Specialized, and Crisis. 

General Assembly committees focus on creating solutions to international issues that range from trafficking to climate change. Crisis committees place delegates in unique scenarios that could be historic, science fiction, or even completely unrelated to our reality. 

Specialized committees help create a middle ground between these two committees and form a hybrid of both crisis and GA. In all of these committees, delegates take on the role of an entity they are assigned to and can decide how they utilize their power. 

However, transitioning back to the standard of what Model UN used to be has its set of challenges. Some of the inconveniences of participating in conferences remotely turned out to be blessings in disguise. Matthew Kadaev ’23, a Co-Director General of the Bronx Science’s Model United Nations team, said, “When entering committees, you must be well prepared and have proper research. You no longer have access to Google just a click away. You need to develop a physical presence in the rooms during unmoderated caucuses and directive writing.” Both unmoderated caucuses and directive writing are critical points in committee where delegates interact with each other without organization provided by the chair.  

Bronx Science’s Model UN team has assiduously maintained meetings in person ever since the start of the 2021-2022 school year. With the school year of 2022-2023 that’s geared towards in-person conferences, the aspects of in-person committees and traveling are said to be the biggest changes to how MUN compared to the previous year. 

“Things are not back to normal yet. The skills that were out of practice over the pandemic are still not back 100%, but we’re working on them,” said Nora Auburn ’24, the Under-Secretary General (Secretary) of the team. There has been a void left in MUN worldwide by the pandemic that hinders key skills essential to Model UN such as public speaking, extemporaneous speaking, and face-to-face communication.

As the pandemic slowly moves towards an endemic state and a new normal, MUN participants must adapt to the changes that come with in-person conferences. Model UN as a whole has developed a greater presence virtually. A lot of the procedures, such as notes and arcs (storylines delegates create for committee) delegates have to create for committees are more tame and can be more easily approached by those who are new to Model UN. There has been a shift in culture of how conferences are run, with greater emphasis on the comfortability of the delegates and the support they receive through committee, rather than pure competition.

Here are the novice members of Bronx Science’s Model UN Team who participated at MiniMUNC. (SciMUN Team)

On the weekend of October 22nd, 2022, many of the novice members of Bronx Science’s Model United Nations participated in-person at MiniMUNC, a conference held at Stuyvesant High School for new members. MiniMUNC was a great opportunity for a lot of the novice members of the team to grasp the essentials of MUN and execute them without the pressure of competing for awards. 

One of the novice delegates that participated in their first conference performed in a winter apocalyptic committee based off of the video game series, Frostpunk. “MiniMUNC was a great learning experience for me. Not only was I able to get closer with the people I already knew, but I had the opportunity to meet new people from all over the city. The in-person aspect made the experience a lot more fun and helped me stay engaged throughout the entirety of the conference. I’m really looking forward to future in-person conferences!” said Clio Liff ’25. 

After 17 years of dedicated service as the Bronx Science’s Model United Nations advisor, Ms. Steiker retired at the end of the 2021-2022 academic year. In her place for the current 2022-2023 academic year, Ms. Macenulty, a teacher in the Social Studies department, has taken on the crucial role of guiding the Model UN team for this year and beyond. “This is my 12th year teaching at Bronx Science, and I wanted to try something new. I have chaperoned Debate trips for years, and I decided that I wanted to become more involved in an academic team,” said Ms. Macenulty.  The Bronx Science Model UN team is ecstatic about her generous offer of counsel and assistance this year.

Here is Ms. MacEnulty, the new Model United Nations advisor at Bronx Science. (Jack Murdock)

When asked about her goals for the Model UN team, Ms. Macenulty said, “This is a transitional year. Not only am I new to Model UN, but because of COVID-19, most members of the team haven’t attended in-person conferences. What I hope to do is to build a new culture where students are excited to come to meetings and excited to travel and participate in conferences. I hope to have a lot of camaraderie.”

In December 2022, the conferences hosted by Bronx Science, PseudoSciMUNC, and SciMUNC, occured. PseudoSciMUNC, a smaller version of SciMUNC, consists of only the Bronx Science novice team as participating delegates. Not only did this conference provide more opportunities and practice for the novice team, but it also allowed the leaders of these to properly prepare for SciMUNC.

“The challenges of hosting SciMUNC was the accommodation of so many people as well as making it run smoothly. Considering that there were so many attendees and that our reputation is based off of SciMUNC, it was extremely important for the funding and development of the team. We needed all the help we could get from the team, whether it was behind the scenes or in the forefront of things. Although our building is big, hosting that many people at once and making sure that everyone has a task and a role as a member of SciMUNC as well as a delegate was not an easy feat,” said Amidala Barta-Zilles ’25, an upcoming chair of a UNHCR committee at both PseudoSciMUNC and SciMUNC. 

The 16th annual Bronx Science Model United Nations Conference allowed students within the city to perform as delegates over a variety of topics delicately put together by the Bronx Science’s Model UN varsity team. “Additionally, running conferences smoothly in general and ensuring everyone’s satisfaction and learning experience is extremely difficult. It amazes me how successful SciMUNC is every year, and makes me even more proud of this accomplished and collaborative team. With a good team effort, anything is possible!” Amidala said. 

“MUN not only teaches important life, work, and school skills, such as public speaking and interpersonal skills, but also shows what the UN is like. It represents how international bodies function and make decisions – the millions of moving parts that go into every country’s decision making, and how international issues are interconnected: war, economy, human rights, and culture,” said Nora Auburn ’24, the Under-Secretary General (Secretary) of the team.