Farag, 17, a senior at Marist High School in Bayonne, was awarded first place honors at the college’s annual High School Model United Nations competition. Junior Matthew Cabrera won similar honors.
“This was a rebuilding year," said Marist Model U.N. moderator Thomas Murphy. “We went with 18 students, and only five had experience. However, Matt Cabrera and Maggie Farag were selected as Outstanding Delegates, for First Place, in their respective committees.”
Eighteen schools from across northern New Jersey represented a different country and participated in a simulation of United Nations interactions. There were more than 200 students working in eight different committees in problem-solving exercises.
Eight first place awards were presented, and Marist High School students took home one quarter of them.
“I felt really accomplished,” Farag said. “Last year was my first year winning. This was my last year, so I kind of felt pressure to win again. Four years of doing the Model United Nations really paid off.”
The Marist students represented the United States, Japan, and Vietnam. Representing those three countries meant allying with other counties, but also sticking with countries the United States would normally ally with. The students had to stay in character and be friendly.
“The point is to find a resolution that every country would be satisfied with,” said Farag. “You have to make clear the position for the country you're representing, but also find a way to solve the problem without infringing on any other country’s rights or sovereignty. For the most part, they’re stances that agree with each other.”
The work for the conference is very intensive and started last fall, when students researched two topics based on what the committee had given them. Students don’t find out which one they will be discussing until a month before the competition.
Students practice how to project their voices, how to speak in front of a crowd, and the basic rules and procedures of discussion in a conference room.
Farag’s committee was dedicated to the status of women, and specifically the trafficking of women. And while no one was defending that practice, Farag said that the students representing The Netherlands did defend that country’s legal prostitution industry.
“So you’re basically doing what the country believes is true,” Farag said.
The day had begun with United Nations-like opening ceremonies, and then dispersement into separate rooms.
“There’s a very professional attitude to it,” Farag said.
Last year Marist took home six awards, breaking its school record for Model U.N. winners.
“I enjoyed the Model U.N. this year more than any other; our students were so enthusiastic,” Murphy said. “Marist has plans to return to the Model U.N. next year, and with a strong, young team I am certain they will be successful.”
The other Marist participants were seniors Briche Lynn and Kamille Moise; juniors Thompson Akele and Francheska Honda; sophomores Minh Li, Madison Sanderlin, and Angelica Villatoro; and freshmen Lindsey Chatman, Jayvee Dacasin, Crishena Deal, Carla Laguerre, Tri Li, Sophia Mateo, Sydney Tse, Julianne Spiniello, and Denzel Reyes.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com