MIDDLEBURY-SOUTHBURY — Pomperaug High School students Michael Falsetta and Michelle Lu received the Diplomatic Commendation award for their work on the United Nation’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in the 67th session of the Harvard Model United Nations held in Boston.

Representing the nation of Bhutan in the 2020 HMUN session, 15 PHS students researched, discussed, and debated issues of social equality, humanitarian concerns, economics, terrorism, culture, law, disarmament, decolonization and environmental impacts.

PHS has participated in HMUN for over 25-years, with each student participant applying to become part of the PHS HMUN delegation.

Michelle Szmajlo and Michelle Saraiva are the current teacher advisors for the PHS HMUN.

“PHS is continuously invited to participate in HMUN, speaking volumes about the abilities of our students. As advisors, we receive many more applications than there are spaces available. 

“Each student applicant is required to research and write a paper to be considered for a spot in the delegation. 

“While their acceptance is not guaranteed, many students put forth the effort to complete the task for a chance at participation in club meetings and the resulting conference. For this fact, all PHS applicants are exceptional,” said Ms. Szmajlo.

Through the program, the student-delegates gain insight into the workings of the United Nations and the dynamics of international relations by assuming the roles of world leaders and international decision makers.

HMUN is an opportunity for young leaders to debate the most pressing issues of the day and to draft innovative, creative solutions.

True to the spirit of the United Nations, HMUN strives to foster a constructive forum for open dialogue on a range of complex issues, requiring student delegates to think critically about the world around them, and to think in new, different and ambitious ways.

“Students are asked to consider world issues that have occurred in the past and contemplate possible outcomes for the future. While the issues are important, they learn valuable skills about how to interact with others and find way to reach a consensus for the most favorable world outcomes,” continued Ms. Szmajlo.

“Being part of HMUN has been an incredible experience that has taught me about collaboration and compromise among many different people, all with strong and deeply intelligent viewpoints. 

“In addition, the experience has taught me what true diplomacy means and the structure and process in getting things done in our world today to solve problems that are increasingly urgent,” said Naia Lehtinen, PHS student and member of the 2020 Model UN Bhutan delegation.

The program’s impact on the participants goes beyond their time participating as delegate members from PHS.

Katrina Hon, member of the PHS Class of 2018, and Jason Jorge, member of the PHS Class of 2019 have continued their participation in the conference following their high school graduation.

They are currently students at Harvard University.

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