Columbia Union Academy Students Inaugural Visit to THIMUN Conference in The Hague

Recently a group of students and teachers from Columbia Union academies traveled to The Hague, Netherlands to participate in The Hague International Model United Nations (THIMUN) conference. The Washington Adventist University Honors College arranged for participation in the THIMUN conference as part of their Center for Global Programs, an academic center designed to provide global experiences for students. THIMUN is the oldest Model United Nations conference in the world, and this year will mark the first time that a group of students from Seventh-day Adventist schools has participated in the conference.  Despite some unexpected travel interruptions on the flight to Amsterdam, the group arrived at the conference ready to participate and engage with the 2500 other students delegates who were attending from schools all around the world.

The Columbia Union delegation included students from Highland View Academy (MD), Pine Forge Academy (PA), Spencerville Adventist Academy (MD), and Takoma Academy (MD). The delegation represented the country of Equatorial Guinea during the conference and students participated in United Nations committees including the Human Rights Council, the Economic and Social Council, a Special Council on Disarmament and International Security, the Sustainable Development Commission, and a number of General Assembly committees. 

Jonathan Scriven, the Associate Director of the WAU Honors college said the trip was the fulfillment of a 3 year goal. “We started an MUN program at WAU in 2019 with a small conference on campus called CAPITALMUN,” he said. “All along the goal was to develop it to the point where we could not only host our own conference, but participate in global conferences. We are thrilled we could provide this opportunity for academy students in the Columbia Union.” 
To prepare for the conference, delegates attended a briefing at the Embassy of Equatorial Guinea in Washington, DC on Friday, January 20. Members of the Equatorial Guinea diplomatic staff will talk to the delegates about the international goals and objectives of the country and will provide insights on how to best represent Equatorial Guinea at the THIMUN conference.
“Attending THIMUN was a great experience,” said Leighvanni Kennedy, a junior at Spencerville Adventist Academy.” While attending, you not only got to learn about the culture of the country that each delegate was representing but also about the culture of the country they, themselves, came from. I have a better understanding of the world because of this experience.”
Brendan Koilpillai, a Senior at Highland View Academy appreciated the new friends he made from all over the world. “Seeing hundreds of kids from all over the world was such a cool experience and it was such a blessing. I have new perspectives now that can only come by interacting with people from around the world. I will never forget all the connections and friendships I made at the conference.”
On Sabbath, January, 28, the delegation had the pleasure of not only attending a church service at the SDA Church in The Hague, but they were asked to present the sermon for the day. Dr. Scriven interviewed several of the students and they talked about the importance of Adventist education in their lives. The church members were moved by their testimony. After the service, a potluck lunch was available for the whole church. On Saturday night, as an added bonus, the youth group from the church invited the Columbia Union academy students to a traditional Dutch pancake house in the beach town of Scheveningen. It was a wonderful evening.
“I was so proud of each of the students,’ Scriven said. ‘They almost immediately began contributing to the debate at the  conference. From day one, they were engaging other delegates, asking points of information, making speeches on behalf of their country, and generally pushing for meaningful solutions to the issues at hand. Being able to hang out with some of the youth from The Hague church was just an added bonus. We can’t wait to do it again next year.”
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