There are few similarities or connections between North Reading and Uzbekistan, but for four days from January 30th to February 2nd, thirteen students from the high school were diplomats from the Central Asian nation at the Harvard Model United Nations Conference. At HMUN, student delegates gained insight into the workings of the United Nations and the dynamics of international relations by assuming the roles of UN representatives and members of other international bodies and national cabinets. Students debated issues that confront world leaders and drafted resolutions in response to these global issues.
Over three thousand students from across the country and around the world met in Boston for the conference, in fact students travelled from forty different countries. About half of the students that participated travelled from international schools, from countries like Egypt, Croatia, Azerbaijan, Venezuela, Australia, South Africa, Italy and China.
In the fall, Harvard assigned NRHS the country of Uzbekistan. For over five months, the thirteen students studied the culture, government, law, politics and economics of Uzbekistan, a former Soviet state, in order to not only be delegates from NRHS at this prestigious conference, but from Uzbekistan as well. Each student was assigned to a committee of the United Nations, where they participated in debates on world issues from the viewpoint of Uzbekistan. Debates included child labor, narco-terrorism, organ trafficking, education, health, natural disasters and climate problems, peace, security, and region-specific social and economic development.
One regional body was in the United Nations Economic and Social Committee for Asian and Pacific, where the 50 nations in this group tried to find an acceptable solution towards ending labor exploitation in Asia. In the required business attire, delegates (the students) would give speeches in front of the committees and write resolutions until an answer to the problem was agreed upon. The goal was to establish relations with other countries in order to create “blocs.” The blocs would write working papers and resolutions and present their solutions to the committee. Other groups included the World Health Organization, European Union, and Decolonization Committee. The global reach of the conference, arguably the most prestigious one in the world, was evident in every committee room. NRHS delegates presented Uzbekistan’s national policy while negotiating sometimes conflicting, international policies. During the conference, students learned the importance of balancing national interests with the needs of the international community, while also learning about the powers and limitations of international negotiation.
In order to compare progress in their respective separate committees, the students and teacher advisors, Sotirios Pintzopoulos and Evan Noce, organized morning breakfast meetings and a dinner at a Spanish restaurant in Boston.
Senior Dan Enright commented how “the HMUN conference is a perfect opportunity to broaden your knowledge of politics and international affairs with people from around the world.” Junior Joseph Tramontozzi stated that “one of the highlights was making friends with people from China, Singapore, Spain, and Greece, all of whom I keep in touch with. “ Junior Zachary Mullin-Bernstein mentioned how “we had the chance to meet people from all around the world who speak English like someone from North Reading.”
The thirteen students who participated were: Shirley Zhang, Emily Zhang, Kate Pappas, Keanna Lamont, Casey Berkowitz, Jeremy Colebrook-Soucie, Ned Madden, Dan Enright, Matthew Leighton, Joseph Tramontozzi, Zachary Mullin-Bernstein, Nicholas Phillips, and Ryan Delaney. Mr. Tramontozzi stated that NRHS prepared the students well for the event not only from the historical, cultural and political perspectives but the important life-learning skills of public speaking, debating, and socialization.
The participants would like to thank organizer Mr. Pintzopoulos, chaperone Mr. Noce, Principal Bernard, Superintendent Kathleen Willis, the School Committee, and their respective teachers for allowing them to attend the conference.