MUN - A Little History

By Marcella Putowski

ASW's 1992-1993 yearbook describes our first delegation of students attending The Hague International Model United Nations (THIMUN 1993), which was celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary. Our new director, Dr. Gail Schoppert, who had served as superintendent of the American School of The Hague (1983-1992), was experienced in debate and interested in increasing the scope and quality of extra-curricular activities at ASW. Mr. Schoppert used his familiarity with THIMUN and his professional contacts in The Hague to have our students assigned to the country of Poland, which would facilitate research for their very first participation in THIMUN.

However, Poland's political situation was still in flux at that time. The Solidarity activist, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, had been asked to form a government, and on September 12, 1989, the Sejm voted approval of him and his Cabinet. After more than forty years. Poland had a government led by non-Communists. In January of 1990, the Communist Polish United Workers' Party dissolved itself, and the May 1990 local elections were entirely free. How to find people familiar with the new political, social, and economic problems the country now faced - experienced professionals willing to share their knowledge and expertise with a group of high school students?

The search began after contacting the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Warsaw, which helped arrange meetings and materials regarding resolutions for ECOSOC and Committee issues.

Our First Group of MUN Students:

ECOSOC                     Lauren Saffarewich
ECOSOC                     Michael Nawrot
Human Rights I            Katja Schreier
Human Rights II           Jennifer Miquel
Disarmament I             Anurag Chandra
Disarmament II            Conrad Bondarek
Infs.Child& Envn. I       Corey Pickelshimer
Infs.Child& Envn. II      Maria Prieto
1st Political                  Azarine Rahman
3rd Political                 Alexandra Andraczke

1992-1993 is long gone, and I don't know if those students, now adults, remember those who took the time to prepare them for the competition they would face, though I'm sure they remember the demands and stress that come with participation in politics. Some meetings and individuals still stand out in my mind.

On November 24, the MUN class visited Mr. Daniel Endres at the office of the U. N. High Commission for Refugees. In a general briefing from 9:00 to 10:30 students were informed of the status of refugees in Poland and the commission's operations and philosophy concerning refugees. Particular emphasis was placed on Poland's role in dealing with refugees and how it interacts with other European nations.

On December 10, Mr. Wojciech Jasinski was a guest speaker for MUN. As a representative of the Foreign Ministry, he gave the students a general briefing on U.N. business, after which the students had an opportunity to ask pointed questions on Poland's policy concerning their committee agenda. A spin-off of this interaction was a promise by us to share our experiences at The Hague with him and with the U.N. System at the Ministry and with the UNDP, so that in the future it might be possible to plan a U.N. studies program for Polish high schools.

 

In addition to the information accumulated, the students had the opportunity to be perceived as adults in a diplomatic situation, and as the briefing wore on became more at ease - a good formative experience that would carry through into later meetings.

On December 11, the students visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a briefing with Mr. Jan Woroniecki, Director of the U.N. System, and with Mr. Gary Gabriel, Director of the United Nations Development Program in Poland. Mr. Gabriel had previously promised to help ASW contact experts at the Ministry and had also arranged for much printed material to be sent to the school.

The briefing was set up for the students to simulate a real meeting in the Conference Room with writing materials and refreshments provided. Mr. Woroniecki chaired the session, as Foreign Minister Skubiszewski would have done, were it a meeting for the Polish staff. Mr. Gabriel and Mr. Woroniecki each gave a general introduction to the work done by his respective institution, with particular emphasis on the position and activities of Poland. Each then fielded specific questions from the students, setting each answer within a general framework for orientation before adding pertinent and detailed information to fill in the picture. Both were informed ahead of time of the specific committee problems the students were researching; they had also been informed by Mr. Jasinski (the previous day's speaker) that the group was most concerned with Poland's position on these problems, since they would represent Poland at The Hague.

The students were well prepared for the session and made a very positive impression. They, in turn, were impressed by the treatment accorded them and by the competence of the speakers; and, each was delighted with being able to pin down Poland's position for their given committee.

This was a wonderful encounter for the students, both socially and academically, an exciting visit, formal but friendly. Both Mr. Woroniecki and Mr. Gabriel handled the students with respect and geniality. The final touch came in the form of a promise: should they need any last-minute information in January concerning Poland's position on a given list of problems once the MUN nitty-gritty began, they were invited to fax their policy questions to Mr. Woroniecki, who would see to it they were updated as quickly as possible.

Thank you letters were sent in mid-January before our trip to The Hague to: Mr. Gary Gabriel of the United Nations Center, Mr. Wojciech A. Jasinski of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dr. hab. Jan Woroniecki, Director of the U.N. System, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In the 1992-1993 yearbook you'll find the following information:

THIMUN                               January 1993

'1993 was the year of the 25th anniversary of The Hague International Model United Nations. 1993 was also the first year the American School of Warsaw decided to mark its participation in this immensely valuable and educational event by sending its delegation of 10 juniors to The Hague. They were a little drop in the ocean of 2,800 students who came to the MUN from schools all over the world, and yet they weren't lost.' 

'ASW's delegation, headed by its ambassador, Conrad Bondarek, represented both the school and our host country, Poland, in a serious and well organized manner, yielding to none. The knowledge gained while participating in MUN is not only theirs, but also belongs to the ASW students who will go to The Hague next year. The juniors set a precedent in ASW's history and unanimously agree that THIMUN should become an annual event in which ASW should proudly participate. We have made a good start and achieved a measure of success. Let's be even more successful next year and have THIMUN become a great tradition in our school.'

Michael Nawrot

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