Model UN makes waves in Topeka

Kris Long, Opinions Editor

Manhattan High Model United Nations left their mark in Topeka last Monday and Tuesday, bringing a record number of students to the capital and winning seven awards.

MHS brought 34 students to Topeka,  and a jump compared to 28 last year. They are now the largest Model UN club in Kansas. According to sponsor Janet Stark, there are many factors contributing to the club’s growth. 

“We have really great officers that work to make sure that everybody knows what’s going on,” Stark said. “Not only that, but we also…  need to give credit to Dr. Lisa Bietau at Anthony Middle School. She has quite a successful program for all the youth that went down there and I think because [students] love it in middle school, they know that they can keep going on at high school.”

The club had 80% of their resolutions accepted to the event, another improvement compared to last year’s fifty. They wrote 25% of the resolutions adopted in their region of Model UN. Along with greatly influencing the topics discussed, Manhattan took home a record seven awards for various competitions, including first, second and third in Indigenous Wear. 

The students taking home awards for speech and debate were senior Elizabeth Kim for Best Negation Speech in the Political Council, junior Emma Brown for Best Affirmation Speech in Political Council and second in Best Political Council delegate and sophomore Rachel Kovar for third Best Political Council Delegate. 

“[Winning] Affirmation Speech I definitely was not expecting because I had written it the night before and I was just looking to get up there and speak once again,” Brown said. “And delegate was very surprising… I told myself [that] if I didn’t win third, I wasn’t going to win. And when they announced third, it wasn’t me. So I was like, ‘Okay, I didn’t win,’ and then they called me for a second and I was very, very surprised and honored.”

For Indigenous Wear, freshman Neo Kim took third, junior Dil Rinaweera took second and senior Dom Metlevski took first for the second year in a row. 

“[Indigenous wear] is always really fun,” Metlevski said. “I always like presenting things in front of people. It’s always fun to give speeches and also really nice to share a little bit of my culture because not many people know about Lithuania.”

While Model UN is competitive, the participants gain a lot more from the experience than the awards at the end of the event. 

“Definitely the debate and diplomacy [are fun], and learning parliamentary procedures,” Brown said. “But also staying overnight at the hotel and going to eat Indian food, hanging out in the hot tub. Just hanging out with everyone [was something I enjoyed].” 

The Chancellor at KU, the guest speaker at the event, stressed. The debate is important but solving problems is the end goal.

“I know that Model UN is competitive because judges are listening to speeches and the debate that happens in each council,” Stark said. “But… we need to be generous with our argument and with how we listen to other people. Because even though this is a debate, to be able to move a civilization forward and even a world forward, you have to be able to walk in someone else’s shoes and to really hear what they’re saying to figure out how this is going to affect all of us.”