The Oasis High School Model U.N. team may be small, but last weekend in Baltimore, it accomplished something that was no small feat.
The school won a top award at the international conference hosted by Johns Hopkins University and attended by more than 1,800 delegates from 96 schools in five countries.
Oasis, with 12 students, won for Best Small school delegation (less than 20 delegates) and won eight individual awards from various committees, some of which had more than 180 delegates.
Members of the Model UN team at Oasis High School. Back row from left, Michael O’Donnell, John O’Donnell, Bernard Sarmiento, Julian Valdivia, Joshua Mamott, Samir Nacer, Blake Pentland. Front row, from left, teacher Peter Ndiang’ui, Johana Gonzalez, Claudia Sanchez, Samantha Gonzalez, Anisha Pednekar.
Peter Ndiang'ui, social studies teacher and team advisor, brought this team to Baltimore after its success in many local and statewide conferences.
"I thought it fit well with what we do and it was a very organized program," Ndiang'ui said. "It had the international exposure we needed because it had schools from all over the world."
The group, on top of all the research it had to do to prepare for the event, did fund raisers to defray some of the costs and spent Feb. 7-10 at the Baltimore Hilton, where the conference was held.
It was money well raised.
Sophomore Anisha Pednekar won first place representing Venezuela in a committee with 175 other delegates, where they discussed social integration through social inclusion and the universal realization to the rights of people to self-determination.
"It was the social and humanitarian council and it was a general assembly meeting and it was cool to win," Pednekar said. "We all put in a lot of time and effort into the conference but didn't expect what we got. Almost all of us won awards."
"The Model UN trains people to be just like delegates in the United Nations. They debate, do research and learn to compromise on different issues," Ndiang'ui said.
The delegates represent the views of a country and the delegates express them on a topic, Ndiang'ui said. The delegates learn and come up with the best solutions for issues in which they are involved, such as education, environment, security, and other matters.
Most students represented France and Venezuela. Bernard Sarmiento, however, had to represent the views of Prime Minister Billy Hughes of Australia in 1919 in the aftermath of World War I, which was an interesting challenge.
"As a delegate, you have to commit to research on your country's policies back then and know what their relationship with other countries was," Sarmiento said. "It was hard because Australia didn't publish positions from such a long time ago."
Sarmiento also couldn't use examples of what happened after 1919 in debate, but what Hughes said at the time. It helped him earn third place among 38 delegates.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of Model UN is the way it helps the students come out of their shell and see the world in a myriad of ways.
"It's affected the person I am now and what I want to become. Before I didn't know what I wanted to do," said Model UN president Johana Gonzalez. "Now, I lean toward international relations, economics and communications, which is what Model UN encompasses."
Other team members included Johana Gonzalez, Emily Schwarck, John O'Donnell, Ciara Bennese, Zachary Perslto, Samir Nacer, Claudia Sanchez, Blake Pentland, Julian Valdivia and Joshua Mammot.