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Model ‘delegates’ win big

OPHS students bring home 6 Model U.N. awards

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Four students from Oak Park’s Model United Nations club won six high distinction awards at a conference  Saturday, April 1.

At the conference, called GriffMUN at Los Alamitos High School, all four Oak Park High School delegates won awards: junior Amogha Koka won a research award and outstanding delegate, a second-place award; junior Olivia Chang won best delegate, a first-place award; junior Nishka Vipul won outstanding delegate and junior Sofia Sayyah won a research award and a commendation, which is equivalent to third place.

“The conference itself was a humbling and invigorating experience — I met some great delegates from other schools — so winning the award was just a great way to end a great day,” Chang wrote to the Talon.

Model United Nations, in its second year at Oak Park, is a club designed for students to become familiar with the United Nations and current events.

The club attempts to go to one conference a semester, competing against 10 schools each time. The conferences, all located near Los Angeles, take place at various participating high schools and colleges.

I’m so proud that just in our second year we have delegates winning outstanding and best delegates … I’m confident that the future members will accomplish many more things.”

— Amogha Koka

To compete in the conferences, each school is randomly assigned an assortment of countries in September. Chang, Vipul, and Sayyah represented the U.S.; Koka, Pakistan. Students played the role of UN delegates; these delegates split into committees and choose one of the countries provided to research its perspective on world affairs. At the competition, delegates used these perspectives to debate diplomatic questions.

Each delegate was also advised to write a research paper on their assigned country’s views and policies and have a proposed solution on a world issue. The papers were then graded at the conference by the chairs of each committee on their thoroughness, presentation and proposed solution. Delegates won research awards based on these requirements.

Koka began the Model United Nations club as a sophomore because she wanted to “get acquainted with diplomacy and further [her] public speaking skills.”

“I wanted to start the club at [Oak Park High School] because I knew I could help others overcome their fear of public speaking, enhance leadership skills and introduce them to a club that will help with knowledge of international issues but also be a lot of fun,” Koka wrote.

I am very impressed with the interest students have in diplomacy and international relations — these really important issues of global welfare, which often go unnoticed by high school students yet shape their world.”

— Roland Herberg

The club’s members also strove to succeed at the conference. To prepare, delegates attended lunch practice debates every week leading up to the competition.

“There’s definitely a bonding factor that lies within every conference; you get closer to your fellow conference members during lunch meetings, as well as during conference breaks and closing ceremonies,” Chang wrote.

English teacher and club advisor Roland Herberg said that the club requires an interest in international issues –– something rare in high school students.

“I am very impressed with the interest students have in diplomacy and international relations — these really important issues of global welfare, which often go unnoticed by high school students yet shape their world,” Herberg wrote in an email.

According to Koka, Model United Nations will continue successfully far beyond her graduation.

“I’m so proud that just in our second year we have delegates winning outstanding and best delegates,” Koka wrote. “The club definitely has a long road ahead even after I graduate, but I’m confident that the future members will accomplish many more things.”

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