Brisk Walking: A Recap of Mentor MUN’s Trip to D.C.

Mentor MUN participated in the Washington Area Model U.N. Conference (WAMUNC) and saw the nation’s capital


Mr. Steve Couch

Mentor MUN at National Mall – one of many places they saw this weekend!

Over the weekend of April 13-16, the Mentor Model U.N. team departed from Mentor High School with its’ sights set on George Washington University for our Washington Area Model United Nations Conference (WAMUNC). This is a highly anticipated conference for the team as it provides for educational opportunities traveling the city, as well as experience with delegates from across the country within committees. During our time there, we did both an exceptional amount of sight-seeing and involved political debates.

Thursday: Arlington National Cemetery

Immediately upon arriving in D.C., the MUN team arrived at Arlington National Cemetery. Located in Arlington, Virginia and home to over 400,000 gravesites, this is the nation’s most revered cemetery. Some notable aspects include General Robert E. Lee’s house, the final resting place of President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

One of our missions during our trip was to honor Mentor graduates who are commemorated for their service throughout the city. In order to accomplish this, we made our way toward the graves of Mark T. Smyrowski, a sergeant in the Marine Corps, and Joshua Harmon, a corporal in the Army. Both of these men died in the Iraq War.

“I think it’s important that we realize that all the men and women who are buried here were real people just like us,” says Mentor MUN President Andrew Freeman. “Coming here to lay the flowers helps us build a more personable connection with fallen soldier members.”

Friday: Museums, Memorials, Monuments, and Rwanda

In an effort to see and learn more about the history of our nation, we spent our Saturday morning at the National Museum of American History. As a collective, this museum covers pretty much everything you can think of in terms of American history. They have exhibits such as “America on the Move” and “American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith” to “Entertainment Nation” and “Music HerStory: Women and Music of Social Change.” While some members simply walked around, others enjoyed the hands-on components of the exhibits – even riding a flight simulator.

Following our time at the Smithsonian, we trekked the couple blocks to see Ford’s Theater and the Petersen House. While this a unique experience on its own, this Saturday was actually the 158th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination at the site. Even though we didn’t have time to go inside, Mr. Couch (advisor) did give us a very detailed account of what the events leading up to the assassination would have looked like on Lincoln’s last day. Many MUNers saw the bed where Lincoln took his last breaths during our trip to Chicago in February. Everyone agreed that it was intriguing to look at the history of Abraham Lincoln and what Ford’s Theater represents in American History.

“It was crazy to be there,” says Junior West Matthews, Model U.N. President, of Ford’s Theater, “It’s just so cool to be there in person. You know, you see pictures of it all the time but never really understand until you’re there.”

Thanks to much brisk walking and skipping lunch, we had a gap before making our way to Embassy Row. Of course, we took the time to make our way to the White House, home of the president. The perks of traveling with an American Government teacher did not go unnoticed here either, as we discussed some of the major news events that have taken place at Lafayette Square in the last couple years, including the Black Lives Matter protests and Donald Trump’s parade from the White House to St. John’s Episcopal Church. 

Finally, as a cap of our tour day, we made it to the steps of the Rwandan Embassy. Thanks to a connection from our traveling buddies at Archbishop-Hoban High School, we were able to meet with a representative of the Rwandan government, Charles. We were given a very warm welcome as we stepped foot on Rwandan soil and hung out in their lobby as we allowed time for the representatives to set up. The embassy itself was pristine and featured many aspects of their culture, such as seen in the decorations of the wall. As proponents for international diplomacy, we found it very interesting to see some of the things we discuss in MUN be presented before us from Charles, their education advisor.

“It was such a unique experience,” says Senior Zach Payne of our embassy visit. “It’s a country that not many people really know about and to hear information from a Rwandan representative only made the experience more interesting.”

A few of the major points he made included the great impact of women in Rwanda and the importance of unity and equality within the country. Since the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, the country has been going through major steps of rebuilding, something that was discussed at length during our meeting.

Saturday: Nighttime Monument Tour

Following a long day in committee, our bus picked us up around 9 p.m. to fit in a nighttime monuments tour featuring six memorials and monuments before heading to bed. Our first stop was to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Out of the 58,318 names on the wall, fifteen of these belong to Mentor High School graduates. Each team member was assigned one of these names along with flowers to place at the memorial. Their names are as follows: George Ernest Hayward, William Thomas Hurd, Jack William Logan, James Joseph Menart, Paul Holland Mitchell Jr., Howard Allen Mucha, Michael Lester Ness, Dean Edward Nicholas, Dale Allen Pearce, Carl A. Proegler, Lloyd Andrew Sellers III, Timothy David Stickle, Loyd Edward Stroisch, William Ronald Dickey, and Anthony Augustine Schllaci. To learn more about these men, you can visit this link.

Next, we walked over to the Lincoln Memorial and the Korean War Veterans Memorial. At the Lincoln Memorial, we enjoyed the 145 steps up to Lincoln. Once at the top, we took in not only the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address, but also the view of the Washington Monument. At the Korean War Veterans Memorial, we found the singular Mentor name on the wall and left flowers there as well.

“I was very emotional. It really makes you feel a sense of pride,” sophomore Sarah Blakemore on seeing the Lincoln Memorial.

In an effort to preserve what little feeling was left in our legs, we took a short bus ride over to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. We discussed the life-sized FDR at the opening of the memorial and how it came to be after disability activists expressed the need for him to be presented in his wheelchair, which he was confined to later in life due to polio. In terms of MUN, this memorial has an extra meaning as it also features the first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt. She was the first United States delegate to the United Nations and played fundamental roles in the writing of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights as well as the first chair of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR).

We capped off the night by going to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the World War II Memorial. First, we remembered the efforts to King to guarantee equality for all people within the United States as well as the protection of freedom of speech, especially that of which is unpopular. At the WWII Memorial, we enjoyed finding Ohio amongst the states of the Pacific theater and discussing how the memorial does not obstruct the views of the Lincoln Memorial and the Reflecting Pool, but also of the Washington Monument. This is due to the fact that George Washington helped establish the nation and that Abraham Lincoln preserved the union.

Model United Nations

Now, you may be wondering when we found time to actually compete and that’s a valid question. In total, we spent roughly sixteen hours in committee. Many of our Mentor delegates were split up into different committees, ranging from 1959 Egypt to 2023 Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). By the end of Sunday’s committee, all committees had passed resolutions on their various topics, some including moving away from a reliance on tourism and others dealing with space terrorism.

In the end, four members were awarded: Andrew Freeman & Zach Payne were named Outstanding Delegates in their final conference, Sarah Blakemore earned Honorable Mention, and Isabel Quinones earned a Verbal Commendation at this international conference. Congratulations to the entire team on this fine showing!

You can read more about the conference here. Until next year, WAMUNC…