Kristyn Hartman
The largest high school conference in the country is in the books.
Saint Ignatius Model United Nations XXI offered more than 900 students from 50 schools across the Chicago area, and even into Wisconsin, a valuable exercise in international diplomacy. 

On the morning of November 5th, all those young people met in our Gentile Gymnasium to kick off the day's events.  Keynote speaker, Emma Yaaka, a Ugandan refugee living in Chicago, talked about the challenges of resettlement and navigating that process with the United Nations.  After his address, SIMUN Secretary General Annika Geiersbach '23, struck the gavel to commence all the committee work for the day.

150 Saint Ignatius students hosted committees, working as leaders to facilitate discussions on issues ranging from climate change to the war in Ukraine.  Historical issues, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, were also on the agenda.

In their committees, students participated in formal debate as well as informal negotiations - what you might all "back room" negotiations. They wrote resolution papers for their issues, tried to come up with solutions, and voted on them.

"All the kids are winners for developing their communication skills, their negotiation skills, their problem-solving skills, and their leadership skills," said Saint Ignatius College Prep Social Studies Teacher and SIMUN Director Diane Haleas, "I just love working with them and seeing them grow - not only as individuals with their skills and character, but with their awareness of the world."

SIMUN member Andrew Duff '23 is thankful for how the Model United Nations has helped him grow in so many areas, especially with public speaking.   

"I feel like I've stepped out of my comfort zone," said Duff, "SIMUN has really allowed me to have those experiences to show me that being open to growth is worth it."  

But it's not just the life-long development that's been important to him.

He said, "I won't just think about the conferences, the papers, or the awards.  I will think about the people I was on the team with, my friends, and the cities and the experiences we had together. SIMUN has been one of the greatest things that's happened to me."

SIMUN allows our students to travel the globe, and work with bright minds from around the world. All of it takes diligent preparation. Hosting SIMUN XXI was no exception.

"We have a huge reputation to uphold. I'm glad to see it all worked out in the end," said SIMUN member Emily Greenawalt '23. 

This year with the group is particularly special because it's Greenawalt's final one.  She said, "I think the thing it's really taught me is how to build a community. SIMUN has truly become a family.  It's taught me how to work with others, build team camaraderie, and just keep a positive spirit for everyone."

Greenawalt said SIMUN also teaches you not to be afraid of critically questioning yourself. She called it a great way to build awareness about different issues, and to see those issues from all angles. 

It is an education outside the classroom, and Saint Ignatius College Prep was honored to host the chapter that was SIMUN XXI!
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