Cayman students awarded at Model United Nations Conference
Cayman Prep and High School’s senior Model United Nations team gained recognition and experience at the Princeton Model United Nations Conference.
Despite being one of the smaller school groups on their first trip to the international relations conference, Prep impressed facilitators enough for some team members to gain special recognition among the 864 delegates attending.
Competing with students from Dalton and other prestigious North American high schools, Cayman Prep’s MUN students garnered four awards during the Nov. 19-22 event.
Four types of formal recognition were given for each committee: Best Delegate (one per committee), Outstanding Delegate (one or two, depending on committee size), Honorable Mention (one to three, depending on committee size) and Verbal Recognition (at the chair’s discretion).
At the closing ceremony on Nov. 22. following three-and-a-half days of intense debate, research, speeches and bargaining, Ayanda Jones (Year 11) was awarded Outstanding Delegate in the 44-person African Union Specialized Committee, Zoe Conolly Basdeo (Year 11) and Matthew Penner gained Verbal Recognition in the Disarmament and International Security Committee, as did Hannah Fowler (Year 11) in the NATO Crisis Committee.
Teacher Mark Freeman, one of the team’s MUN advisers, said, “Princeton’s conference was perhaps the most demanding we have attended. The committees were fast-paced and extremely challenging and the quality of the attending delegates was extremely high. Despite the intense competition and the far greater levels of experience that the other attending schools have, four of our students were recognized for the excellence of their contributions.”
He said, “Ayanda’s achievement in gaining Outstanding Delegate is remarkable, given the size of our school and our senior club (many competing schools will have more than a hundred members) and reflects a genuine passion for, and commitment to MUN.”
He added, “All of our delegates spoke before their committees and drafted aspects of the resolutions that went forward and some of our newest and least experienced delegates surpassed all our expectations. We are immensely proud of them all.”
The accolade was given to the 15-year-old for her work on topics relating to finding strategies to combat Boko Haram and the logistics of women’s empowerment throughout the African continent.
Her granting of the award was backed by African Union Specialized Committee Chairperson Anna Griffith, a Princeton student.
Ms. Griffith said, “[Ayanda] worked very well with all the other delegates, had great ideas, such as a micro finance initiative for African women, and spoke so elegantly. I was very glad to have Ayanda in my committee and was very proud of her work.”
Zoe Connolly Basdeo’s last public airing was as a TEDx speaker. Her award was not the first time that she had impressed MUN facilitators.
Awards were given on criteria including public speaking ability; ability to negotiate, compromise and form effective agreements; position papers; and knowledge of the subject material and adherence to policy of country or character.
Year 10 student Matthew Penner, who got the MUN bug in Year 7, said, “It was my first senior conference. Delegates [t]here were more outspoken and aggressive and had stronger leadership qualities so I had to develop better persuasive abilities and negotiating skills to get myself heard.”
Year 13 student Polly Serpell found being a delegate in a crisis committee meant expecting the unexpected. She said, “Being woken up in the middle of the night and taken to a committee session allows you to gain a real understanding of the real world; making decisions when tired, anxious and under pressure.”
For 17-year-old Daniel Harrington, the experience was transformative. “I could not have asked for a better first experience at a MUN conference,” he said. “You get to meet amazing new people, with whom you will stay in touch. I was nervous but found that the room was supportive because everyone had been there before. And at the end of the conference, after the competition is over, you get to share a laugh with other delegates.”