RICHMOND, Va. -- Students at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School in Richmond are on a mission to help others develop a global view of the world. Dozens of Maggie Walker students are taking the lead, busy behind the scenes, preparing to bring together hundreds of students across the country for their annual Governor School Model United Nations conference—or GSMUN.
This year will be virtual, but Senthil Meyyapan called the agenda for student delegates hefty. The focus is on understanding global challenges and coming up with solutions through creativity, informed debate, and diplomacy.
“Model UN is where we have simulations of current United Nations committees, where students will discuss a variety of topics from solving refugee crises, to helping minority populations like the Rohingya Muslims of Mayanmar. So it's really about a variety of like global issues and also domestic issues here in the United States,” Meyyapan said.
“It's really a confidence builder for a lot of people. It's a really amazing opportunity not only to build their public speaking skills and make them more confident in the way that they're able to express themselves but also just to learn about international affairs,” Anna Murray added.
Though most of the conference is aimed at global issues, the students’ efforts will benefit a local cause they’re passionate about. Revenue collected through conference registration costs, community donations, and online merchandise sales will be donated to a Richmond-area nonprofit.
“Considering the fact that mental health has been such a common issue among students and adults alike this year, due to just isolation and the strict conditions that we found ourselves in, we decided to partner with a charity that supports struggling children who have lost loved ones,"
Shreya Malani said. "They provide a support system for those struggling with mental health issues. The charity that we decided to support this year is called Comfort Zone Camp.”
Ria Bakshi said the conference is a tradition at Maggie Walker.
This is the 23rd year the school has hosted the student-led event.
“And seniors are kind of running the show. So, everything that we do, the school supports us a lot. Everything is really voluntary by our Model UN Club, which is the largest club that we have at school,” Bakshi explained.
GSMUN organizers said about 250 students have registered. The goal is 350 and there’s still time to sign up.
It’s a mission to help students build a global perspective while helping children in our own community.
Maggie Walker students also welcome community donations to help them reach their fundraising goal to benefit Comfort Zone Camp. You can give through Venmo by using the handle @GSMUN-CHARITY or through their website at GSMUN.net.
Students from across Virginia and the country, have until March 24 to register.
The two-day conference is March 26 and 27.