The Long Island Model UN circuit can certainly be an experience for anyone who has not ventured outside of the typical collegiate held conferences that attract international attention.
Comprised of around ten high schools, mostly public, a sense of intimacy and camaraderie rarely found at high level exists. Forget the glitz and glam of elaborately held opening ceremonies at HMUN or ILMUNC, the poshness of high profile hotels, and stress-inducing arguments with nationally ranked private schools, and extremely decorated teams that dominate internationally renowned conferences during committee sessions.
If the Harvard High School Model UN conference (HMUN) had a humble, small-town brother, the Long Island circuit would be it.
Conferences rarely last longer than two days and are held in school classrooms. Scribbling arguments on top of a hardy desk provides a homey feeling that is unmatched by a soulless conference room in a Sheraton or Marriott hotel. It is more likely than not that you have been in at least three committees with the chair for the conference; and that may work for or against you. Everyone knows everyone. After all, the exact same six schools that host conferences and sometimes not all of these six schools attend.
On rare occasion, these schools travel outside of “the Island” to larger conferences, and the closed-off community is temporarily left behind for an opportunity to engage with Model UN teams from across the country. While these opportunities are life-changing, beware that the more widespread Model UN community is not nearly as warm. As socially sensitive almost as much as it is politically in committee, tabs are kept on everyone.
Top schools in the Long Island circuit are debated during lunch, exasperated sighs are emitted when you notice a repetitively awarded delegate enter your committee, and you will be judged by the same fellow delegates who you began your Model UN career as early as four years ago. Your track record will be gossiped about and notes will be taken about which awards you receive from your fellow committee members for their teammates. It is true that the Long Island circuit may not be as well known as others; however, that does not mean these small town schools do not come to prove their worth when the time comes.
While this community has its flaws, the Long Island circuit’s glowing positives certainly prove its presence. Be prepared to make at least several friends during each conference that regularly ask about what your committee assignment. Secretary Generals become friends and often discuss with each other the best training methods. At every award ceremony, your team will not be the only one cheering for you, but others as well. All of this is to say that when it comes to Model UN, bigger might not always be better.