Despite setbacks, MUN wins at Knights Invitational


“The Syrian Arab Republic declares Jihad, a peaceful holy war, on the capitalist devil,” announced Nicholas Spencer (11) acting as the delegate from Syria, “for their transgression against the Syrian people and the greater Muslim world.”

The Carlsbad High School student acting as the U.S. delegate stood up, glaring at Spencer, and said, “The capitalist devil will now speak. With the full force of the U.S military, we will turn Syria into a parking lot.”

Having previously gone around in circles of stagnant discussion,  delegates on both sides of the conference table perked up excitedly after hearing this exchange, which gave them new material for their topic, the Yemeni Civil War. Daniel Kang (12), the delegate from Qatar, saw this as an opportunity to use Syria’s tensions with the U.S. to promote his own country, as the mediator between the two and eventually aim to resolve the disagreement.

Model United Nations (MUN) competed alongside other high school students in The Bishop’s School Knights MUN competition, Dec. 2. Each member was assigned a committee, a country, and an issue to discuss and eventually resolve during the competition. Members of the Bishop’s MUN club hosted the competition, acting as committee chairs who judged and scored the delegates as they discussed their topic.

“[MUN competitions] are kind of like playing a character,” Kang said. “The objective was to work as a collaborative whole for the greater good of the UN.”

After the competition, Gaurav Shah (12) won Best Delegate, the highest award for his committee. Kang, Neek Azar (12), and Amber Li (12) won Outstanding, the second best award in their respective committees, and Daniel Sjoholm (9) won Best Research. The Westview delegation also won the Best Delegation Award, which recognized the highest overall performing school.

Members who received awards said that they developed their competition strategies by capitalizing on their own personal strong suits.

“I try to give powerful speeches by putting in ethos, pathos, and logos so I can get the attention of the room, cause controversy, and win by pushing debate,” Shah said.

Kang said that Knights proved to be a huge motivational and rewarding experience as MUN’s first successful competition of the year, since the relatively new club had previously faced many problems getting up and running before finally obtaining success.

Co-presidents Kang and Azar initially struggled through the process of creating MUN. They had both been trying to start the club since their freshman year, but had trouble finding an adviser and a dedicated group of students to form the executive board.

“We had potential, yet we were stagnating in the beginning purely because of administration issues,” Kang said.

However, once MUN was approved last year, they continued to progress slowly, figuring out the direction of the club, learning how to compete, and getting accustomed to the format of competitions with a small, yet dedicated group of members.

After smoothing out their initial rocky start and beginning to participate regularly in local competitions, MUN faced its first big challenge of the school year, Oct 28: Triton MUN at UCSD. Because it was a larger-scale, university-held competition, it naturally drew in more intense competitors than Westview’s delegation had experienced before.

“It was a different level of competition with people coming in from different states,” Kang said. “Because we only had success in competitions from last year, we were very blind to defeat. We went in with a very gung-ho attitude.”

The club experienced a steep learning curve at Triton, where they obtained a real sense of what competition would be like on a higher level.

“As down as we were that we didn’t win, once we got over that initial defeat, we recognized the fact that we had potential and we needed to refine it,” Kang said.

The club took their experience at Triton as a learning opportunity by breaking down the competition, reflecting on which strategies worked and didn’t work for the team.

“We learned that opening speeches were important and certain aspects were less important, which helped us tailor our curriculum,” Kang said. “Experiencing that next-level competition gave us inspiration to work on our basic fundamental skills.”

MUN spent the next month perfecting their craft to prepare for their next competition, Knights MUN. Several meetings were dedicated to holding mock conferences, where the club would go through traditional conference proceedings to give newer members more competition experience. They also worked on experimenting with more unique approaches to speeches, such as greatly differentiating their positions in their opening speeches to give them an edge in competitions.

By Dec. 2, the team was ready to compete, eager to prove themselves at Knights after previously falling short at Triton. Arriving at The Bishops’ School 30 minutes early, the team split up to discuss positions within their own committee groups one last time before the competition started.

Some MUN members who had previously competed in Triton were motivated more than ever to place at Knights.

“When we didn’t win at Triton I was a little surprised, but we ended up gaining a lot of knowledge from that competition,” Shah said. “So at the Knights competition I personally went into it expecting to win, because that’s just the right mentality to have.”

Other newer members were more apprehensive on the morning of the competition.

“Knights was my first competition ever, so during the drive there I was scared that I would mess up,” Sjoholm said. “But just in that half hour, I got way more prepared, and a lot of people helped me get a lot more comfortable.”

MUN’s hard work and preparation in their meetings paid off at the awards ceremony, where five out of 11 members placed. The Knights competition turned out to be not only a huge success for those who won individually, but for the school and collective MUN team spirit as well.

“We were all ecstatic with our success,” Kang said. “It was a great feeling to finally see the fruits of our labor.”

Though they had performed well in past local competitions, their impressive win at Knights MUN showcased their ability to take greater  strides and become a club capable of achieving bigger and better things in future competitions.

“We’re still looking to hone our skills and continue training our new members to hopefully equip them with success in MUN,” Kang said. “The group itself is very passionate, and we’re going to continue to develop that family collaborative environment.”