The Huntington deletion posing at the podium following the closing ceremonies.
The Huntington deletion posing at the podium following the closing ceremonies.
Ryan Ramirez

Huntington Beach High School Model UN Takes on the Big Apple

This month, juniors in the Model United Nations program made the long-awaited pilgrimage to debate in New York—meeting people from all over the world, sight-seeing and growing closer as a class.

From March 9-16, juniors from HBHS’s Model United Nations class traveled to New York to participate in the largest, most international conference high school MUN has to offer—the National High School Model United Nations Conference (NHSMUN). 

MUN is a unique class and aspect of HBHS culture. Odds are that students in and out of the program have heard of the long nights spent researching international issues, roast anxieties and countless stories of in-committee theatrics—the hard work students put into the NHSMUN trip was no exception. But rather than the high school and college campuses the junior class has debated in so far, they took on their most interesting feat yet: New York City. 

Day 1: The Arrival

The class was called to meet on campus at 5:45 pm on Saturday, March 9 for their bus to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The environment was buzzing with parents saying their goodbyes, suitcases outnumbering people, and the realization that missing a week of school for a New York trip was actually happening—“surreal” was the word of the day.

Allison Hoang, a student on the trip, said, “The bus and flight to New York felt surreal because I couldn’t believe we were actually in New York. Everything we’ve been dreaming of since Freshman Year was literally right in front of us.”

Taking the city in after being rejuvenated by bagels and coffee. (Sienna Schoales)

After a (brief) struggle with baggage check-ins, the class boarded the long-awaited flight to Newark, followed by a bus to Manhattan’s Midtown Hilton. 

“We took a redeye flight, so most of us only slept for about an hour, but besides that, it was super fun,” said Sidney Woodard, another student attending the trip. 

Students were met with a full day after landing in Newark around 6 am that Saturday morning. This included: splitting off into groups for breakfast, exploring Central Park, visiting (and resting) at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and Times Square, culminating with watching the sunset on top of the Empire State Building. 

Harsh and windy, the view from the Empire State Building made everything worth it. (Sienna Schoales)

My favorite day was probably Sunday…Even though in the moment it was super tiring, looking back, it was a lot of fun and a really big adventure. From my first meal in New York at Liberty Bagels to walking up 27 flights of stairs three times, that day was absolutely unforgettable” said Hoang. 

With the class traveling from Huntington to Manhattan on a few hours of sleep, the first day in New York was magical and exhausting. 

My favorite thing we saw [was] the MOMA even though we all were dead tired,” said Chloe Stewart, a student. 

Day 2: History and Hotpot

The Statue of Liberty was a marvelous sight after a misty ferry ride; a destination for freedom (and photoshoots). (Sienna Schoales)

After getting what many of the students called “the best sleep of their lives”, the second day was all about American history. Starting off with an early breakfast and subway ride, the morning was spent taking a ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. 

The class split into groups to enjoy lunch on Wall Street before visiting the 9/11 Memorial. Following that was a trek to and across the Brooklyn Bridge. 

The second day [in] New York with the Statue [of Liberty], 9/11 Memorial, Brooklyn Bridge and hotpot [was my favorite] because of not only the great structures, food, and museum[s], but because of it being the first day to see [Mr.]Haney [advisor who arrived in New York that day] and be a full group. Whether it was…better or worse for Haney’s sanity,” said student Davis Gates. 

After a long day of exploring the city, “No Sleep Til Brooklyn” is an apt description. (Ryan Ramirez)

The day concluded with the much-anticipated group dinner: hotpot in Little Italy. Students new to hotpot were soon initiated by their classmates as trays of noodles, meat and sauces were demolished round after round. 

Woodard said, “The best thing I ate was the hot pot for group dinner. The hot pot was amazing and sitting with everyone was super enjoyable.”

The class anticipates a hot pot dinner after a long day. (Sienna Schoales)

The second day brought many things: the purchase of fuzzy Russian hats to fight against the cold, searches for family history at Ellis Island and the single most rewarding dinner to finish up the day among other things. But our time as tourists was not complete, and day three remained. 

Day 3: Musicals and the MET

The conga line on ice was short-lived and fun. (Ryan Ramirez)

The third day was all about art; starting off with ice skating at Central Park’s Wollman Rink as a true test of the class’ grace. After falling, starting a conga line on the ice and trying out stunts, the class grabbed lunch before heading to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET).

“I really liked day three where we got to ice skate! All days were amazing, but I think this was the day I got really comfortable in New York and it was a really nice day to be outside” said Nicolette Kasravi, a student. 

The MET had gorgeous art from all over the world. Ranging from Ancient Egyptian tombs to 18th-century American houses. (Sienna Schoales)

Student Raven Etzelsberger said, “My favorite day was the ice skating, MET, and Broadway show day. Learning how to do something new, ice skating, was so fun. And at the MET, I got the joy of experiencing museum fatigue for the first time.”

Students got more downtime to explore Manhattan, shop and grab dinner before attending Broadway shows Tuesday evening. The class split into three groups depending on their musical of choice: Hamilton, Hadestown or Book of Mormon. 

The Book of Mormon was heaven for students and hell for advisors. (Sienna Schoales)

“Book of Mormon was exceptionally funny, but watching [Mr.] Soch and [Mrs.] Rehberger dying of embarrassment was almost funnier,” said Etzelsberger on her Broadway experience. 

Going to bed humming show tunes to themselves, the class geared up for the conference beginning the next day. 

Days 4-6: Motions to Open Debate

While the opening ceremonies didn’t take place until 6 p.m, preparation for that night’s debate began hours in advance. Students spent the day working in local libraries, printing and rehearsing speeches in hallways and hotel rooms alike. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (1984-2022) and chief medical advisor to President Biden (2021-2022), gave inspiring remarks via Zoom at the opening ceremony—and the three days of debate began. 

Student’s NHSMUN experiences varied depending on their committee type but one thing remained abundantly clear: it was different from West Coast MUN. This manifested itself in the process of amending papers and a focus on creating an authentic United Nations simulation. 

“Compared to committees on the West coast, NHSMUN was definitely more authentic to how the actual UN works. Focusing on diplomacy and collaboration rather than just winning was incredibly refreshing, and all the people I met were so genuine,” said Etzelsberger. 

Hoang said, “The conference was really fun and nothing like I’ve experienced before. It was so amazing being able to meet people from all over the world. I loved NHSMUN a lot because everyone there was so kind and genuinely wanted to solve the issues at hand.”

Delegates in the Security Council were called to a “Midnight Crisis” or debate session taking place in the early hours of Friday morning. 

Hera Poon, one of those Security Council delegates, said, “Midnight crisis was unreal.”

No matter the committee type, the experiences at NHSMUN were unlike any other. The conference even concluded with a “delegate dance” for all the participants in the Hilton’s ballrooms. 

Our time in New York simultaneously felt too short and like we had been there for a month. Nonetheless, it was time to back up and leave. (Sienna Schoales)

Day 7: Closing Debate and Thoughts

“The trip was worth the wait because it feels like all of my work throughout MUN has finally paid off,” said Woodard.

The class saw their efforts get rewarded as a whole as the Huntington delegation won the award of distinction for research and overall performance—with multiple delegates giving remarks at the closing ceremony. 

More than any award, New York was an opportunity unlike any other to grow closer as a class and create unique experiences.

Kasravi said, “ It required a lot of work, but the trip was definitely worth it! It’s an experience I’ll never forget, and I talked to so many people in my class I haven’t really gotten to know before, so that was a really cool aspect of this experience too!” 

Author’s Note

Special thanks to all of the advisors on the New York trip, classmates who participated in interviews and Ryan Ramirez for permitting the use of his photos. There is no group of people I would have rather gone on this trip with. 

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