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MUN conference abroad: how did GZAAT students do in New York?

The United Nations, (UN), is an intergovernmental organisation that was established on October 24, 1945, (after World War II). Its aim is to promote international cooperation, peace, and security. The UN is made up of 193 member states, and its headquarters is located in New York City.

Students around the world interested in this topic take part in model UN, which is a series of activities and programs especially made for young pupils who want to learn more about the united nations and how it works. Luckily, students at GZAAT also have the privilege to be a part of model UN, which provides plenty of opportunities to expand their knowledge on this topic. The model UN club in GZAAT is taught by Keti Sturua, and students who are interested and willing are often presented with the chance to travel abroad in order to take part in large and international model UN events. For example this year, an international model UN conference was held in New York City, where students from all around the world gathered together. Seven GZAAT students attended this event and had the privilege to be a part of this experience: Ani Turkoshvili, Nikoloz Kvaratskhelia, Giorgi Bakuradze, Nitsa Putkaradze, Anano Kirvalidze, Mariam Gurchumelia, and Ana Chelidze.

This year's trip was organised mostly by Tamuna Guniava. Students were tasked by Keti Sturua, who worked with them tirelessly in order to help them prepare for the important event, with preparing their speeches and papers for the conference. Besides this, students had to come up with ideas of places to see and visit in their free time while being in New York during their seven-day trip. The conference lasted four days, meaning that they had three full free days to go around and explore.

The conference was held at the New York Hilton Midtown, which is located on sixth avenue, near the US headquarters and Time Square. Students enjoyed staying in such a vibrant location.

Even though the plane ride to NY was exhausting, almost 12 hours, the excitement of arriving kept them going. As Nitsa Putkaradze, one of the students who attended the conference, mentioned, "We were all very tired, but when we got there, the hotel was amazing, and we were all thrilled and ready to view the city."

Mariam Gurchumelia explains that despite the long journey, they had fun since they were all together and excited about the upcoming events. Unfortunately, on the day of their flight, there was a big marathon going on in the city, and the whole 6th avenue was closed. Students had to run with huge suitcases through the streets and wait for two hours for transportation. Nonetheless, it didn't dampen their spirits, and they were ready to seize every opportunity that came their way.

Every day was unique. The first two days were completely work-free, allowing the students to explore the city and its famous landmarks. They visited museums like the Metropolitan Museum and other tourist attractions including Wall Street and Times Square. Ani Turkoshvili says, "I personally spent a lot of time on my own, walking around the city, taking in the area, and shopping." It was a great opportunity for the students to experience the diverse and vibrant culture of New York City.

After their first two days of exploring, students got busy with their conference. The days were tightly scheduled. They started early in the morning with a three-hour morning session beginning at 9 am. After this session they had a two-hour break, which they used to grab a quick bite to eat and go out into the city. As Mariam Gurchumelia mentions, the students were determined to make the most of their time in New York and tried to spend as much time as possible outside of their hotel rooms.

After their break, they attended 2-3 hours of committee sessions in the evenings where they discussed different issues related to the conference theme. However, the students were not done with their work yet as they often had to work on speeches and resolutions in their free time. The schedule was demanding and tough, but the students were ambitious to meet their responsibilities.

Students represented the delegation of Latvia at the conferences. Each student was in a different committee. They discussed global issues specific to their committees and collaborated with other countries to develop solutions over the span of three days. Other than the committee sessions, there were some activities like the delegate dance and the closing ceremony at the UN headquarters.

Every student’s experience was different when participating. Ana Chelidze for example said that: "It was a great opportunity to learn public speaking and cooperation. I would gladly participate again next year and hopefully be the best delegate!" Overall she loved the UN and is very grateful for this opportunity.

Anano Kirvalidze adds that: "Participating in Model UN was a very enriching experience. I developed confidence and leadership skills and got over my fear of talking in front of a crowd" She says that it also allowed her to practice her research as well as her negotiation and writing skills.

Mariam Gurchumelia says that: "I met people from all over the world. I gained significant experience that I wouldn’t have had a chance to get any other way. NHSMUN made it possible for us to visit the UN headquarters since the closing ceremony was held there." She says that it was such a valuable experience and she is so lucky to have gotten it.

Ani Turkoshvili adds that: "The MUN experience taught me a lot of things and I got to know a lot of amazing people from around the world." However, she says that she wished they were more prepared. Their research about the topics were not enough, compared to other countries.

Finally, Nitsa Putkaradze adds that: “We not only got to talk about huge world problems and figured out ways to solve these issues, but we were also able to meet new people from different countries, learn leadership and public speaking skills."

New York itself left great impressions on students. Mariam says that she loved the people, the places, the architecture, the food and everything. She says that the city is full of opportunities. Ani says that this experience made her realize that NYC is definitely where she wants to live and continue her studies. Nitsa says that there were a lot of things that shocked her. She says that the people were really polite and nice. When they asked for help, people did it with huge smiles on their faces. In cafes and restaurants, everyone was sweet and friendly too. Also, Nitsa liked the subways. She said that you can find people dancing and music playing in the subways. Also, she learned that rats are very common in the streets. They actually saw one running in the middle of the sidewalk! Overall, she adds that the city was gorgeous and the buildings were remarkable.

In conclusion, the UN conference was an incredible opportunity for students from around the world to collaborate and address global issues through the Model United Nations program. While each student's experience was different, they all enjoyed the program and highly recommend it to others. New York City definitely left a strong and, some could even say life-lasting, impression on GZAAT students, who were given a new perspective to the world by visiting this amazing city.

Edited By: Lizi Schierman

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