NIST Hosts Inaugural Middle School MUN Event

On 11 May 2019, NIST hosted its first-ever NIST Middle School Model United Nations (MUN) Conference. Participating delegates came from NIST, as well as Hua Hin International School and NIVA International School, two other institutions in Thailand. The conference was a wonderful experience for middle school delegates taking their first leap into the world of MUN, providing a comfortable and engaging environment for new participants to collaborate, learn and grow in an official conference setting.  

The first annual NIST Middle School MUN began with the opening ceremony, where the secretariat, Isha Banerjee (Y10), Kanav Patel (Y11), Amelia Mackenzie (Y10) and Avan Fata (Y11) formally opened the conference. Delegates were treated to an inspiring speech by Secretary General Kenshin Ueoka (Y11), who spoke on the joys of participating in MUN, and the drive exhibited by the youth hoping to tackle some of the most alarming challenges of today. After the Secretary General speech the formal gavel ceremony began, where the dedicated chairing teams were presented with their conference gavels. For this year’s conference, the chairing teams comprised experienced NIST students, with four chairs presiding over each committee room. The conference’s chairs–Ameya Agrawal, Jaskeerat Thakral, Abhishek Agarwal, Soroush Saleh, Grace Gambrill, Shivam Kogar, Natalie Khaoroptam and Arjun Chawla–worked tirelessly throughout the day to ensure delegates were getting the support needed for success.

After the opening ceremony, delegates were taken to their committee rooms to begin a full day of engaging debate. Over the course of the conference, they sparred on a variety of issues within the two committees, ranging from the question of eliminating discrimination against the LBTQ+ community to the regulation of oil production in highly polluting nations. Throughout the day, debate remained at a high level, with delegates participating in dynamic discussions, lobbying to form strategic alliances and constructing comprehensive resolutions to tackle some of the toughest issues encountered on the global stage. It was clear to see growth in many of the conference’s first-time delegates, who were able to participate actively in debating complex issues and provide well-researched and effective solutions for the topics discussed. This sentiment was voiced by the conference’s Secretary General, who stated, “There is no better opportunity for skill development for the next generation of MUNers than middle school MUN. This first NIST Middle School MUN Conference sets a solid foundation of experience for our middle school delegates, allowing them to grow effectively.”

As the conference drew to a close, delegates finalized and passed resolutions, and the conference wrapped up with the closing ceremony. Awards were presented to the most outstanding delegates and chairs, who truly surpassed expectations in elevating the standard of debate and encouraging their delegates to perform to the best of their abilities. Both best delegate awards were received by NIST delegates, Aditi Bhandari (Environmental Committee) and Mansimar Thakral (Human Rights Council), for their excellent performance and contribution to the success of the committee. The decision to select the recipient of the Best Chair award was extremely difficult, and in the end two recipients were selected for their phenomenal performance throughout the conference in encouraging delegates, and maintaining the smooth operation of their committee rooms. This honor was awarded to NIST Chairs Grace Gambrill and Arjun Chawla.

All in all, the first ever NIST Middle School MUN conference was a huge success, with many delegates providing positive feedback on their experience. One delegate in particular talked about his increased enthusiasm for the Model United Nations as a result of the conference: “I wasn’t that enthusiastic starting MUN, but I started to enjoy it and I made a lot of new friends in the process.” The success of this conference wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of the dedicated MUN advisors, Melanie Kathleen and Alex Trotter, as well as with the support of NIST MUN President Aashna Kammila. In addition, special thanks goes out to the NIST staff, Community Relations & Services Department and Property Department for ensuring that the conference ran seamlessly, as well as the admin staff and chairs who took time out of their busy schedules to make this event possible.

Bringing Mathematics to Life

SEAMC is a prestigious regional competition that NIST has taken part in each year since 2012. SEAMC 2016 was hosted by the Alice Smith School and Garden International School in Kuala Lumpur from 25-28 February. The annual event includes of a variety of collaborative and competitive activities, including individual rounds, a passback round, math trail, energizer, carousel and long-term questions. Above all, it provides the opportunity for young mathematicians to meet new colleagues, create lasting friendships and enjoy a unique and memorable experience. Steve Warry, a passionate mathematics teacher at Alice Smith School, founded SEAMC in 2001, believing that mathematics competitions should be fun and active events.

Alexander Templeton, Schwinn Saereesitthipitak, Soichiro Iwamoto, Alisa Khaninya, Hiro Isomura and I represented NIST at this three-day event, accompanied by Mr. Daykin and Khun Kate, and forming two teams: the PerfectionNISTs and the ExpressionNISTs. We were selected to compete in this event based on our ability to effectively solve a wide range of mathematical problems, and to do mental math and apply math in unfamiliar situations. This trip gave us the opportunity to consistently step out of our comfort zone, try new things and learn a lot with other like-minded students.

“SEAMC was an amazing opportunity, I was able to learn and connect with students from all over the world who had similar abilities and interests as me. Over the 3 days, I learned a lot about my own skills and faced exciting challenges. It was a super fun event.” –Alisa Khaninya, Year 10

SEAMC is sometimes assumed to be a boring math competition where students go to take more tests, but this perception is all wrong. SEAMC is so much more than that; it combines a variety of activities, all using mathematics but in very different ways, and requiring other skills such as collaboration, team building, spatial awareness, and breaking problems down into smaller tasks.

There is also a distinguished guest speaker each year, and this year we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to listen to and question Charlie Gilderdale from the NRICH project at the University of Cambridge. His talk was was very inspiring and interesting, and his perspective on mathematics was incredible and brought about new and fresh ideas to our minds. We found his powerful presentation truly breathtaking.

Moreover, some of the most exciting and enjoyable activities for me personally were the math trail and the energizer round. The math trail is an activity in which teams go around the whole school solving different sorts of math problems involving decoding, games, team building and much more. By contrast the energizer is a fast-running working game, with music in the background and students fully focused in collaboration with lots of energy, running to collect each new question and submit each answer as quickly as possible. I especially enjoyed the collaboration and energy of these rounds. Finally, we all enjoyed a beautiful gala dinner on the last night when we could all relax and say farewell to our new friends.

SEAMC was a truly memorable experience and has enlightened and inspired us all to develop our mathematical understanding further and apply it to practical problems. We got to meet so many new people and learn so many new things. It was unforgettable. SEAMC is a unique event, and more than can be described in a few words; you must experience it yourself if you have the chance. Thank you to Mr.Daykin for starting this at NIST, and for giving us all this amazing experience.

– Ankita Brahmachari (Class of 2019)

Model United Nations: Closing the Gap

“We must do everything we can to close the gap between the world as it is, and the world as it should be. That is the mission of the United Nations. It’s time we work together to make this world better for all, where everybody can live with dignity and prosperity.”

On 10 October 2015, NIST International School hosted the 23rd annual Bangkok Model United Nations conference, and these were the words spoken by Nikhil Goyal, the Secretary General, before officially opening the event. With over 350 participants from 18 international schools from the greater Bangkok area, students arrived at NIST on a Saturday morning, ready to tackle the world’s most pressing issues with enthusiasm and drive.

Taking the Secretary General’s words to heart, students worked closely together to negotiate and author resolutions that address prominent global issues of the 21st century. Playing the role of delegates, students debated for their represented nation’s interests, emulating the United Nations protocol on debate and resolutions. The delegates researched, prepared, and discussed a wide range of issues, from the problem of transnational drug trafficking to the issue of the economic and socio-political inclusion of women, and collaborated to offer lasting solutions to today’s most profound issues.

The NIST delegation consisted of 56 students from Years 9 through 13 and was extremely successful throughout the conference. Weeks of preparation during our NIST MUN meetings paid off as our delegates participated and contributed at the highest levels of diplomacy and debate revealing the exceptional quality of the NIST Model United Nations programme. Four delegation members achieved the distinguished status of “Best Delegate” in their committees, including Ping Ping (Soravit) Kitsiriboon, representing Libya in the Disarmament and International Security Committee 2; Alessandro Prugel, representing Venezuela in Security Council 2; Hithalli Chawla, representing Brazil in Economic and Social Council 1; and Mitthi (Chirayu) Jain, representing Ireland in Human Rights Council 3.

Whether it was their first or tenth MUN conference, students finished the day with a true sense of accomplishment and pride. Having thoroughly debated pertinent global issues, we all left the conference feeling smarter, more confident and better prepared to suggest informed solutions to the problems of today. The conference was only possible with the support and guidance of our MUN advisors, Mr. & Mrs. Erik and Robin Wilensky, along with a dedicated MUN student leadership team, 36 exceptional administrative staff volunteers and the wide-ranging assistance of our beloved NIST support personnel from a variety of departments around the campus. Ultimately, our genuine collaboration made this an authentic learning opportunity for all student participants and an organized and successful conference.

– Kengo Shigeta

“MUN was an extremely fun and interactive experience. We debated on a variety of important issues, and I was able to meet new people from schools all around Bangkok. The debate was a patchwork quilt of engaging discussion, dotted here and there with borrowed Miley Cyrus song lyrics. Plus, to top it all off, the raspberry pancakes provided at the conference were to die for!”

Aashna Kammila, Year 9

“The immense caliber of the delegates around me really shook me up at first. However, after the first speech I realized that the chairs were really there to help boost our confidence, and that the other delegates were just as nervous as I was. I worked through my frightened phase, authored a resolution that was passed by the majority, and by the end of the conference, I gained the confidence to give speeches and become open to any and all points of information.”

Hithalli Chawla, Best Delegate award recipient

“My first Bangkok MUN conference was a great experience. It was challenging, and I was nervous, but at the end I had a great day. From making my first amendment all the way to meeting some very interesting people, I took risks and really enjoyed my time at the conference. The weekly meetings to prepare for the debate and learning about global issues were great, and led to a wonderful conference. I am proud of what I accomplished, and I look forward to going to more conferences in the future.”

Ankita Brahmachari, Year 10 – first year participant

“This conference was an experience like nothing else. In our committee, we discussed several important global issues in front an entire room full of people, and the passion and enthusiasm I saw during debate was unlike anything I had ever seen before. The people in that room were of different ethnicities, gender, and age, but I felt that there was one thing that joined everyone in that room: the hope of a better and more peaceful future. Overall this MUN experience was very educational and extremely fun. After this experience I can’t wait to attend the next conference!”

Alexander Templeton, Year 9

NIST MUN Student Leaders

Nikhil Goyal – Secretary General

Hannah Cooper – Deputy Secretary General

Kengo Shigeta – Parliamentarian

Mihir Patel – Vice President of the International Court of Justice

Adele Birkenes – Chair of Security Council 1

Paul Keen – Chair of Economic and Social Council 1

Vaibhaw Ladha – Chair of Disarmament and International Security Committee 2

Varun Subramaniam – Chair of Human Rights Council 1

Bek (Theeranai) Charaschanya – Chair of Special Political Committee 2