Godwin students are known for working hard and taking the initiative, but Model United Nations participants went above and beyond by organizing their own conference on Dec. 9 and 10, 2016 at Embassy Suites by Hilton.

Model United Nations offers students the opportunity to “learn about world issues, meet like-minded individuals, gain public speaking skills, and engage in great debate,” according to senior Divya Atluri, who organized the conference and is Secretary General.

Students meet, each representing different countries, people, or roles and their interactions in the United Nations.

While spearheaded by Atluri, seniors Dharani Atluri and Julianne Carroll, and juniors Apurv Shah, McKenna Gillard, Yara Ibrahim, Aala Nasir, Anjali Jain, and Amruta Pongupati helped organize the conference with help from sponsor Atluris’ mother, and a few Freeman and Henrico students.

The Student Invitational Model UN Conference, dubbed “SIMUNC”, was created by students because the school club wasn’t interested in orchestrating a conference at the time.

“Having a conference has been a dream of mine since my sophomore year, and I was not planning on giving up so easily,” said Divya Atluri.

Atluri contacted a network of people that she had met at different conferences and set about assembling one of her own.

It wasn’t as simple as just deciding to organize a conference. The planning alone took a year, even with tips from Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School and the University of Virginia.

Participation was garnered from Freeman, Deep Run, Maggie Walker, and Henrico via Twitter, SIMUNC’s website (simunc.org) and emails.

Students who attended, otherwise known as “delegates”, arrived armed with a position paper that they had submitted previously. The paper introduced the delegate’s role, stated their position on certain issues, solutions to those issues, and answered pertinent questions.

While the benefits of Model United Nations outshine the awards, the conference judged delegates based on preparedness, participation, and diplomacy.

“Model UN allowed me to feel challenged, confident and intelligent all at once. I was able to find a voice and argue on issues that I am passionate about like human trafficking and women’s rights,” said Atluri.

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