Since 2001, CHS has been proud to host an annual weekend-long Model United Nations conference ‘MUNCH’, and this year, for the very first time in its 20 year history, it takes the form of an online event!
MUNCH 20 features delegates from twenty schools, debating issues affecting Jerusalem, the climate crisis, the right to protest, marine conservation, discrimination and the pandemic’s effect on education.
Moving MUNCH 20 online – My Preparation Diary
By Lizzy Pollitt, co-Sec Gen, Lower Sixth
We decided the issues for each committee. These included tackling climate change in Covid, the depletion of fish stocks and marine conservation, and fast fashion. We selected a range of countries from many different continents and political systems, with the aim of giving a balanced viewpoint to each issue and some less well-known countries to potentially bring new information and ideas not previously heard. We also decided on the timetable, making sure there were lots of breaks but also plenty of time for brilliant debate. Mrs Shand was really helpful in all of the advice she gave about previous issues and good suggestions – she was the teacher who made all of this possible, sorting out all the links with Technical Services and was the person who Alex McDermott – my co-Sec Gen – and I went to if we ever had problems. She was probably very sick of getting emails from us by the point the conference arrived.
This was possibly the most exciting part of the preparation – invitation letters were sent to all the schools together with the list of countries and delegations. This was the point when the conference began to feel like it was really going to happen, I was very disappointed when MUNCH was cancelled in October and I have sorely missed going to conferences at other schools (including MHSG, Shrewsbury and Tudor Hall, just a few of my previous favourites). It was so nice to finally be doing an event with other schools, even over Zoom.
We began to receive briefing papers from the chairs. There was some unbelievably detailed research with millions of links and it was lovely – but a nightmare to edit. All of the briefing papers were put into the same format and it was amazing to see it all coming together.
Briefing papers were finished and sent to advisors of the schools, ready to be handed to the students to help their own research for the conference. Mrs Evans helped us massively with all the paperwork and is the reason we were able to get so much done. She made sure all the chairs had registers and gave really helpful advice, always knowing the solution to pretty much any problem.
Opening Ceremony videos started arriving from guest speakers. We had some lovely videos from Old Wacs, including Chloe and Aaron who are both now doctors and Sam who is working for the NHS Test and Trace. We managed to find some old photos and it was amazing to see how much some people had changed. There were some from the early 2000s and the hairstyles were definitely of their time… Alex and I had a great time filming the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, although definitely ran it a little close to the wire at times. We are also unbelievably grateful to Mr Smith and Mr Richardson, who managed to find time to film short videos for the opening ceremony. They were both wonderful and made the Opening Ceremony video even better.
It has been an amazing day and we have had very few technical issues. One chairperson had Wifi issues but the rest of it ran smoothly – it was lovely to hear all of the debate and to see Pat and Rohan, who left last summer, back as special guest chairs in Committee 1. I honestly can’t wait for the next conference – although it has been really hard work. We are currently hoping to hold an in-person conference in October and I have my fingers crossed. I would love to travel to away conferences again next year too as this has been one of the things I have missed most during Covid.
My MUNCH 20 Experience
By Sam Barnett, Year 9
Covid-19 has obviously reduced our personal liberties and pleasures – as we prepared for MUNCH online we have all been wondering what we would lose of the allure of MUN and the joy of the usual MUNCH conference.
The lead up to the conference is usually a very hectic period in terms of organization – little has changed in this department with the logistics of running a conference on Zoom proving to be more than a little complicated. Despite the challenges in communication and the lack of the social aspect of the conference, an aspect that many avid debaters like myself have missed, especially not being able to see people properly and more generally the talking and socializing that the conference has always fostered.
I am still very eagerly looking forward to chairing and sharing in the rich online experience. In my opinion, it isn’t fair to say that the view of online debating should be regarded as wholly pessimistic – for example, I have seen younger delegates and people who otherwise might be shy and reluctant to speak in face-to-face discussions, such as the myriad Year 7 students starting this year in my school, really bask in the anonymity of Zoom and develop into brilliantly opinionated delegates. In this way, Covid restrictions have helped many delegates to gain some essential confidence.
What will I miss most about the real conference? The REAL MUNCH?! This is difficult to say – whether it be the electric atmosphere created on the campus, the brilliant food at breaks and lunchtimes in between debates, the joke awards and laughter shared within committees, the omni-captivating crises, fruitful and eventful committee debate, the buzzing social event hosted in the Sixth Form Centre with disco and dance or the camaraderie of GA.
I think we can all hope and wish for a swift return to the regularity of the normal MUNCH next year. So many things are missing in an online debate, and I and many others are, with any luck, completely enthused to be taking part in MUNCH 21 next October!
FIND OUT MORE
To learn more about MUNCH, Cheadle Hulme School’s Co-Curricular Model United Nations activity, visit the official MUNCH website here which is updated annually.
Discover what CHS MUNCH Co-Ordinator Mrs Shand thought of the pupils’ efforts and find out who else was involved by reading the full news story.