Utilizing real-life diplomacy and debating skills and advocating passionately for the interests of their assigned countries, budding statesmen and stateswomen gathered for the 33rd annual Yeshiva University National Model United Nations (YUNMUN) on February 5-7. The event brought together 370 high school delegates from 42 schools in the U.S., Brazil, Canada, and Israel and 60 undergraduate moderators and event staff from Yeshiva University for simulated U.N. committee debates. Mirroring the proceedings of official U.N. sessions, the three-day competition illustrated to the students the complex landscape of international diplomacy.
YUNMUN is the largest Orthodox academic competition for high school students in the country. The young diplomats were divided into 16 committees, each chaired by a Yeshiva University undergraduate. The committees addressed critical global issues driving sensitive debates in New York and Geneva, including supply chains, semiconductors, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, arms control, climate change, refugee crises, and education equity. To best advocate for their assigned country, students conducted thorough research across a wide range of issues and concerns, adding both to their knowledge of world affairs and to their appreciation of, and facility with, research, preparation, communication, and critical evaluation.
This year’s YUNMUN coincided with Tu B’Shvat, leading to the theme of the two-day event: “Planting the Seeds for the Future.” Eytana Schick (’23 Stern College for Women), a six-year veteran of YUNMUN and this year’s Secretary General, reflected on the significance of this theme, saying: “Tu B’Shvat is a time to take small steps towards making a significant impact in the future. It’s a time to reflect on our growth and development, and to sow the seeds for our futures as individuals, as a Jewish nation, and as a global community.
“Through my six years participating in YUNMUN which started in high school, I have been able to develop valuable skills, all while learning about crucial global issues, takeaways which I hope this year’s delegates experienced during this year’s forum. This demonstrates the exciting programming that Yeshiva University offers, which is helping me prepare for a career while having a lot of fun in the process,” Schick continued.
Marc Zharnest, YU Director of Undergraduate Admissions, shared: “YUNMUN is one of the proud hallmark events run by YU’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions. For the past 33 years, we have had the privilege of seeing many of these inquisitive delegates go on to matriculate to our campus community and impact the greater world. This year’s program was especially noteworthy, with the participation of the first ever student delegation from Israel, which reinforced the central themes and purpose of the competition.
“This student-run simulation allows high school students an opportunity to engage and debate real world issues, and the nature of this exercise lends itself to the essence of what this university stands for and its Core Torah Values.”