By Hania Raza '24
Not many people can say they have traveled around the world by the age of 15.
Though they spent half of their childhood living in the United States, Konur Onufer ‘24 and Isabella Onufer ‘24 moved around the world throughout their early years to countries including China, Nigeria, Cuba and Barbados.
Their mother, who is a former diplomat, traveled for her job, so the twins were able to experience living in many different countries. These Global Studies scholars recently signed up for National High School Model United Nations (MUN), a tradition since 2013 for the school. North Cross has attended eight HarvardMUNs, six IvyLeagueMUNCs (Penn), and one PrincetonMUNC.
Last year, the school did not attend a conference because of COVID-19, but it is starting back up again to open new opportunities for the high school students. This year, North Cross will attend Model UN in New York City, which will take place in New York Hilton Midtown.
This program allows students to travel across the country and meet other students from all over the nation to discuss major global issues. Each accepted school is assigned a country, and students involved must research about and be prepared to discuss topics from their country’s point of view. Students role play as delegates on specific committees in the United Nations (UN) from their assigned country.
After submitting their final committee decisions this week to the Model UN faculty advisors, Hannah Ewing and Ryan DeMarco, all of the students are waiting eagerly for their committee assignments. When asked about what committees he hopes to be on, Konur said “The Trade and Development committee. That one really interested me, I liked that one a lot. I was also interested in the Group of 20 committee as well as the Food and Agriculture.”
Ewing explained some of the benefits for the students attending Model UN. “I think one of the first benefits is just getting to meet other students who are interested in the same thing as them. It’s always a good thing to have access to people from different walks of life,” Ewing said. “It’s so important for students to be aware of global issues, because we’re all people in the world, we need to know about things that affect us.”
Along with being involved in Model UN, both Konur and Isabella are in the Global Studies program and take some classes focusing on World History, and their teachers recognize them as students who stand out in class.
Dr. Daniel Hood, who teaches AP World History, expressed that Isabella “has a depth of experience and foreknowledge that helps her to explain things to her classmates in simpler terms.”
Konur also takes the Science, Arts, Religion and Technology elective taught by Ewing. “He’s amazing. He has such an inquisitive mind that keeps everyone on their toes, which is really good,” Ewing said. “He makes me question how much I know about the things I’m teaching him. Whenever I’m prepping a class, I always stop and think ‘What questions might Konur ask?’”
This year is the first year North Cross has received such an influential country assignment, China. Though this opportunity allows more students to get involved with a total of 17 committees to fill, it also puts a lot of weight on the delegates. “Well I think that being assigned to a big country certainly puts a certain amount of pressure,” Konur said, “and I’m very surprised that a small school like North Cross managed to get China. I think that’s really cool, and I think that we can probably rise to the challenge pretty well.”
Ewing expressed that some topics are difficult to talk about from the perspective of China, but overall, it is a very good opportunity. “It also gives us the chance to take more students, which wouldn’t be the case if we had such a small country, like that we’ve had previously,” said Ewing. “It does put pressure, and obviously, there are some topics that are specifically difficult for China to talk about, as our country, so that’ll be a challenge, but I think, with the right support, we’ll manage.”