The teams of high school students had tabled discussion of a humanitarian crisis in Syria to focus on finishing a resolution on piracy in Somalia.
After finishing the caucus, members of the Model United Nations Security Council committee took their seats and prepared to decide their next move.
Then a door burst open and four people acting as Syrian protesters broke in, shouting and yelling as they kidnapped four United Nations delegates. Shaken, the students quickly shifted their focus to Syria ““ which had been the goal of the UCLA student organizers.
“This is my fifth time (in the Security Council) and I’ve never been taken hostage (before),” said Kasra Kazempoor, a senior at Huntington Beach High School and one of the U.S. delegates. “I wasn’t expecting to be captured … normally they take out a small country.”
This weekend, the 19th annual Bruin Model United Nations conference, hosted by the Model United Nations Club at UCLA, brought together more than 900 high school students from Southern California and around the country to debate and discuss global issues.
“UCLA has throughout the years established a base for Model U.N. in the West,” said Ethan Scapellati, president of Model U.N. at UCLA and fourth-year history and political science student. “(The event) is also to get high school students acquainted with college.”
The event at UCLA is the largest of its kind on the West Coast, said Vicki Nee, secretary general of Model U.N. at UCLA and third-year political science and history student. Sixteen different student committees met in buildings throughout campus to debate their topic with the other country delegates, with the goal of passing a resolution on the topic, Nee said.
The environment can become quite competitive, she added.
Ashley Inman, a senior at Gulf Coast High School in Naples, Fla., said her school often travels to tournaments outside of the state. Her school traveled to Washington D.C. and Atlanta in the past and will be traveling to Columbia University later this year for another competition.
High schools had from May to November to register for the conference. Once registered, each school was assigned several countries and committees to represent.
Students had until November to write a position paper about the country and issue they wanted to present to their committee chair, said Emily Savastano, third-year mass communications student and director of external relations.
Issues ranged from demilitarization to international drug trade. Allegra Miller, a sophomore from Palos Verdes Peninsula High School, was a Russian Federation delegate in the economic and society committee that dealt with the international drug trade.
“I like being a “˜Big 5′ country,” Miller said. “It’s an automatic leadership role and I like that advantage.”
Two committees in the event ““ the Historical Crisis and the Security Council ““ contain a component that others do not. Both are crisis resolution committees where the goal is to pass a resolution, but updates are given throughout the event to force delegates to adjust to the new issues, said Van Lyn Lee, the moderator for the security council and a first-year business economics student.
In the Security Council, the majority of their crises concerned current events, such as the Syrian humanitarian crisis.
Inman, the delegate for Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Security Council, said she enjoyed the surprise of the kidnapping.
“I’ve always wanted to do crisis,” Inman said. “It’s the only committee that does actual things … it makes it all the more real.”
Historical Crisis, the other crisis council, re-enacted past political situations and aimed to solve the issues presented. In previous years, they have dealt with topics as far back as the Peloponnesian War.
This year, the committee recreated John F. Kennedy’s presidential cabinets. The committee did not follow the footsteps of history, however ““ Che Guevara took power in Cuba after the assassination of Fidel Castro.
Carson Hughes, a senior from Palos Verdes Peninsula High School, took the part of President John F. Kennedy for the historical committee.
“You’re on the edge of your seat whenever someone comes in the room. What’s going to happen?” Hughes said. “(The crisis events) represent the fluctuation of world events and it’s a real look into what life’s like.”
At the end of the competition, schools took home a variety of awards. Inman took home best delegate for the Security Council and Hughes won best delegate for Historical Crisis.