Norwin gears up for more virtual Model UN

It’s the third time this year that Norwin will partake in a virtual conference. Will it finally work this time?


Oliver Hinson

     For the third time this year, Norwin High School’s Model UN club will be attending a virtual conference.

     On Feb. 5, the club will participate in Duquesne University’s annual Model UN event through Zoom. Students are assigned a country to represent, and they attempt to stay in character (act how their country would act) while debating contemporary issues, such as the COVID-19 pandemic or an arms race.

      In the midst of COVID-19, this year marks the first time that the conference will take place virtually, and hopefully, the last. The virtual format has not been kind to Norwin so far; last December’s Model EU conference proved to be problematic for some students, and just weeks before that an issue with Microsoft left Norwin’s entire team unable to participate in the University of Pittsburgh’s conference. While some would argue that “the third time’s a charm,” others are feeling trepidation at the prospect of another event gone wrong.

     “I am a little concerned mainly because we did have issues using Microsoft Teams at a previous conference,” said club adviser Mrs. Sturm. “But, for the conference this Friday, we will be on Zoom, so I’m a little more at ease considering we know that it has been very beneficial throughout this year and has worked very well.”

     If all goes according to plan, this conference could prove to be very useful. For starters, Duquesne is one of only a few events all year that allow students to represent their country by themselves, otherwise known as a single delegation. For freshman Drew Brown, Friday will be his first time ever in those conditions.

     “I think that it was better to have a partner my first time around to help me get used to things,” said Brown. “However, now that I have a little bit of experience, I think that debating [by myself] will help me gain even more knowledge and confidence.”

     Brown has shown much enthusiasm for Model UN during his first year, and in the face of declining membership this year, he could likely play a big role in the future as someone with several conferences under his belt.

     “As I get more experience I think that a leadership position will come natural to me,” said Brown. “It will give me a chance to promote this club as well as help younger students interested in participating.”

    So far, Brown has been taking it slow, choosing to play countries with less important roles in order to build up his skill set. Providing a stark contrast to that, however, is one of his own teammates. Junior Mitch Kenney has barely been in the club for a week, and for his first conference, he chose a crisis committee. The crisis committee is a special assembly within the conference in which students can play specific people from a real historical event. The participants try to resolve the conflict as a group. These roles are typically reserved for more experienced students, but he is not worried about diving in the deep end. As a member of the argument and debate team, he is used to getting his way.

     “I have much success when it comes to an argument/debate atmosphere,” said Kenney. “I think it will transfer quite well to crisis.”

     Nevertheless, he will have to spend a lot of time preparing to play his role correctly, as will everyone else participating. This is an important event for the Knights, and as of now, despite the still-unfamiliar feeling, the students are optimistic.

     “I am almost certain that some technical problems will eventually arise for somebody,” said  sophomore Brady Johnson. “However, I know that we will be able to work through them and still have a good conference.”